JCMR Articles 12.2

Sierra Leone’s media response to COVID-19: A behaviour change communication approach, coverage and reportage

June 21, 2021
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Abstract This article examines the response of Sierra Leone’s media to COVID-19. It sets out the media’s approach prior to and during th...

Abstract

This article examines the response of Sierra Leone’s media to COVID-19. It sets out the media’s approach prior to and during the outbreak of the disease, which was recorded in the country on the 31st March 2020. The key research question is: How did the country’s media respond to COVID-19? The study uses theoretical expositions in Health Communication and Behavioural Change Communication. The study’s objective was to investigate the role of the mass media in health communication, both in terms of their reportage and coverage, and mechanisms for feedback, with specific reference to COVID-19. Data were collected using documentary analysis, interviews, survey, content analysis and participant observation.  The study finds out that the country’s media coverage and reportage on COVID-19 started prior to the announcement of the disease in the country, and the media’s response was mainly led by the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ). The intervention was largely made possible by SLAJ and the media’s prior knowledge on communicating an epidemic owing to their coverage and reportage on Ebola in 2014 and 2015. The study recommends the development and/or strengthening of the knowledge, skills, and capacity of media practitioners and developing/strengthening national resource banks on health communication as there appears to be a pattern of emergence of epidemics and pandemics in the world.

 

Key words: Media Response, COVID-19, Media Roles, Episodic and Thematic Reporting, Behaviour Change Communication

 

JCMR Journal of Communication and Media Research, Vol. 12, No. 2, October 2020, pp. 19-31

© Association of Media and Communication Researchers of Nigeria (AMCRON).

 

About the author

*     Francis Sowa, Ph.D., is a lecturer at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, Sierra Leone. He is a researcher, writer, columnist, and social and political analyst. His research interests are strategic media management, media law and regulation, media and peacebuilding, human rights and elections and governance.

 

Full Article

Words: 8,229

Pages: 13

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Article Citation

Sowa, F. (2020). Sierra Leone’s media response to COVID-19: A behaviour change communication approach, coverage and reportage. Journal of Communication and Media Research, 12 (2): 19 – 31.

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