Media coverage of the determinants of HIV infection among women in Kenya : content analysis of the 'daily nation' and 'standard' nwespapers for January-December 2005
Ombidi, Wilkister A
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The media have become major sources of information, and there is a tendency for people to discuss happens in the media, hence the media set public agenda, and have considerable influence in shaping public opinion and people's behavior. Depending on how the media prioritize issues in their coverage. the public is likely to attach the same importance. For example, how the media report on HIV/AIDS is likely to have a significant impact on community attitudes towards the epidemic and affected by it. The major objective of this study was to analyse the print media (Daily Nation and Standard) Coverage of the major factors that predispose women to HIV/AIDS in Kenya. The basis is the reality that the Kenyan publics rely on the media to set health agenda including HIV / AIDS issues; that HIV/AIDS remain a killer disease in Kenya despite the numerous preventive strategies advanced especially by the government and NGOs; and that women are more infected than men (KDHS 2003; 2008-09). The Daily Nation and Standard were chosen being the two most widely circulated newspapers in Kenya, hence representative of the other newspapers. The studied period was January -December 2005, a significant year that marks the end-line of NACC's HIV/AIDS Five Year Strategic Plan (2000-2005) whose visions include eradication of poverty as a major strategy for limiting spread of HIV. Data were collected through content analysis then coded and analyzed by use of frequency distributions with percentages. Due to limited time and financial constraints, the researcher used six months to represent the 12 months of study. Five months (February, April, June, August, and October) were randomly selected through systematic random sampling. For each newspaper, 47 days/editions were systematically sampled (from the five months) through construction of composite week to give each edition equal chance of being included in the sample. The month of December was studied in whole (31 days) to incorporate the activities of the World AIDS Day which falls on 1 December. Similar days (representing editions) were studied for each newspaper. A total of 136 editions (68 from each newspaper) were studied for coverage of the investigated variables. The study findings show under-performance in coverage of the studied factors by both the Daily Nation and Standard. The Daily Nation had 18 editions covering the studied variables (26%) where the Standard had 25 editions of coverage (37%). Page placement of the articles as a measure of prominence was equally poor for both newspapers at 96% articles placed on the inside pages. All the Daily Nation's 27 articles from its 18 editions appeared on the inside pages. The Standard's 25 editions had 77 articles (73 on inside pages, 1 front page and 3 back pages). The occurrence of 9~% of articles altogether on the inside pages suggests minimal prominence assigned to the studied themes. Coverage of individual themes was disappointing too. On the whole, coverage of the studied themes by the two newspapers for the entire 12 months ranged from lowest of 0% (for physiology) to highest 32% (for gender-based violence) Much of the coverage of the themes was presented in hard news (71 %) suggesting inadequacy of elaborate, investigated reporting that would characterize feature stories or commentaries. The minimal editorial reportage (1 %) indicates diminutive focus of the attention of the newspapers on the investigated themes. Coverage of the studied themes by the two newspapers was basically event-oriented with most articles appearing in December (63% for the Daily Nation and 44% for the Standard). Significantly, coverage was scanty for February, April, August and October, accounting for up to 50 percent of the studied months. Overall, however, language use was modest (non-abusive, non-provocative) and the stories were generally balanced (82%) displaying objective reporting. A major conclusion derived from the findings of this study is that the media in Kenya are not all-embracing in their coverage of the key factors that predispose women to HIV/AIDS, hence reliance on the media to set major health agenda (including HIV I AIDS) may be misleading. This finding is consistent with the study hypothesis that 'the media do not adequately cover the key factors that predispose women to HIV/AIDS' The study recommends training and sensitization of reporters and editors on the importance of covering the core HIV/AIDS issues and the need for balance coverage as a significant intervention in HIV/AIDS control.