Saturday, 06 Sep 2014

Reporting beyond the crashes

Photo: Kate Holt

By Ida Jooste

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Status report on Road Safety for 2013 estimates that more than 8,000 people are killed in road traffic crashes in Kenya every year.
Crash-related injuries number in the tens of thousands.
These are numbers, but they represent deep family tragedy and tremendous health, economic and disability costs.  
Better road infrastructure that lends itself to higher speeds has not led to better road safety conditions. Rather, old driving habits more suited to poor road infrastructure and congestion, have resulted in increased horrific crashes, now commonly reported in the media.

It is serious. So, how can the media report beyond the one day story of these horrific crashes?

Internews in Kenya’s new journalism training program, “Beyond the crash: Road safety journalism fellowship” will work with journalists to find meaningful ways to report what happens on our roads through stories that bring about a new awareness of what every road user can do to change these gruesome statistics.

Journalists often write in the hope to change the world”, says Internews Country Director Ida Jooste, “most know that they cannot change the world on their own, but they can make a difference. Beyond the crashes is an opportunity to make a difference in knowledge amongst Kenyans about new road safety regulations; a difference in awareness of how simple behavior change can save lives.”

Fellowships will be offered to a select number of journalists. Road safety is a story that is rich in data, from sources like the WHO, the Ministries of Health and Transport, the National Transport and safety Authority (NTSA), groups dealing with people with disabilities, and other sources. The story is also about people; people who are needlessly injured and people who need to change their road behaviors. The majority of those killed on Kenyan roads are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, with speed being a major contributing factor. Deaths and injuries are also often linked to the lack of safety equipment such as helmets and safety restraints.

The objective of the fellowship is to offer direct support to a group of journalists selected in a competitive way – to report on road safety. Fellows will produce awareness-raising in-depth news reports on specific road use and traffic-related issues, and promote greater understanding among Kenyans of the economic and public health risks associated with road safety violations.

Internews has previously collaborated with the WHO to raise awareness through the media of safer road behaviors.
See: Traffic Crashes: Reporting on Road Safety as a Global Health Crisis.  The brochure focused on the fact that over 90% of car crash deaths occur in low-income and middle-income countries, placing a significant strain on already overburdened health systems and communities.

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