Tuesday, 08 May 2012

Internews alumni score big wins for health journalism

The year started on a high note for health journalism with three Internews alumni launching Health broadcast slots on TV and Radio.

The Health Assignment, a segment that was developed by Internews health fellow Irene Choge was launched on March 15 on NTV.  The premier story on the segment, which airs during Prime Time News on the station every Thursday, was on Blood Safety and HIV by Irene Choge.  Two weeks later, a story she did whole on an Internews data journalism travel grant: Of Toilets and Grades, was aired.   

“When a health story breaks it gets at most two minutes on prime time but  when you have a segment you can tell an in depth story,” says Irene.

Ghetto FM presenter Erastus Wambugu knows how Irene feels about this milestone.  After being trained and mentored by Internews, the presenter toyed with the idea of starting a health segment but worried that it might not be popular with his listeners.  But in January he gave it a go and launched an-hour-long health weekly show, Ghetto Health Matters.

“When I started out in January I wanted to see if people would be interested in a health show,” says Wambugu.  “People love my show. They even call me because I gave out my phone number to ask me questions. But of course I am not an expert so I usually refer them to someone who can assist them.”

 Each Ghetto Health Matters edition focuses on a newsy topic, and experts are invited participate.  People relate to Wambugu’s show, because he uses sheng, the slang spoken by urban youths in Kenya.

The two journalists are following in the footsteps of Thomas Bwire a journalist with Pamoja FM, a community radio station in Kibera. Bwire, who has attended several Internews workshops, produces two health slots for the station. These are Makala ya Afya bora on Saturday after the 1pm and 9pm news and Hali Yako, an hour-long programme that airs every Wednesday.

Bwire consults social workers in Kibera on the topics for his programs, ensuring the content connects with his audience.

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