Is NTV Uganda the new Lokodo: Staff fired over nude leaks

27 05 2015

Nude photos of Fabiola Kyalimpa leaked in February 2015: thanks to a local tabloid, the photos made rounds on social media. This afternoon NTV Uganda announced (internally) that Fabiola who was a TV show host at this station was asked to resign her duties effective immediately. An email NTV management sent to the staff reads:

Dear Enablers,
This is to notify you that Anita Kyarimpa a.k.a. Fabiola has been asked to resign her position as Presenter (Be My Date). This, she has done and it takes immediate effect. The reason emanates from her nude pictures that have been doing the rounds on the social media circuit.
Those in the habit of engaging or those contemplating in doing the same are strongly advised to think thrice of its repercussions. This tarnishes our brand image and values; a foundation on which we are built and respected….

Now, I understand that NTV feels very highly about its brand/ image. However this totally took me by surprise. Is NTV implying that this TV host wanted her nude photos to leak?

Nude photo leaks are becoming a common occurrence in Uganda and the media (especially tabloids) are making a good cut off the leaks. We can blame social media and the lunatics who make it their business to share leaked nude photos wide but the real problem lies with the responsibility and role of the media. As it is, our local tabloids do not have the etiquette to refrain from publishing the photos but what are other media houses doing about it – especially when one of their own is a victim?

The answer lies in the email NTV sent to the staff, a precise warning. Once your nude photos leak, show yourself the door and never come back! Clearly NTV’s response to Fabiola’s incident is rather appalling. Absolutely zero pity, instead, she is being punished for a “crime” she did not commit. This reminds me of Lokodo, who often thinks that women go around leaking their nude photos and that victims of revenge porn “should be locked up and isolated”. Yes, I do not see a difference between Lokodo and NTV.

In the email above NTV claims that its protecting the “brand/ image” which is rather absurd because NTV seems to be mixing two things – private and professional life of the TV host. Who is the real victim here: the station’s brand or Fabiola (who is dealing with nude leaks and involuntary loss of a job)? I see NTV’s problem, the management probably thinks that the employees do not have a private life or if they do, they should be very careful what they do with it.

When corporate companies respond to these kinds of situations like this, I wonder whether they think about the implications of such decisions.

  • For example, we now know how easy it is to end the career of any of NTV’s employees – leak their nude photos. How convenient or rather, absurd.
  • November 2014, NTV invited one of the victims of nude leaks to a morning show to talk about her experience and how she was handling the public humiliation. You invited one victim to share her experience on TV and yet you are dismissing your own?  This makes me question NTV’s (social) responsibility claim.

The fact that NTV is willing to tell the story of one woman whose nude photos have leaked tells me one thing – that NTV does not mind talking about nude leaks victims on TV for selfish reasons (to make money for the station). Yet, when nude pictures of a station employee leak, that is the end of her story and job!

Bravo NTV Uganda, that is as selfish as you can get.

Meanwhile, some folks are demanding NTV to #BringBackFabioula on Twitter.  Photo by Muhereza Kyamutetera ‏(@MKyamutetera)

Meanwhile, some folks are demanding NTV to #BringBackFabiola on Twitter. Photo by Muhereza Kyamutetera ‏(@MKyamutetera)





“The nurse who injected a child with HIV blood”: Media propaganda in Uganda

10 02 2014

You have probably seen or heard the story of “the nurse who injected a child with blood”. Yes? Well the nurse’s name is Namubiru. I saw this story on NTV Akawungeezi – the Luganda version at seven in the evening. See the video clip below.

My first reaction was irritation and deep inside I was wondering, how could a nurse who is over 50 (judging from her looks) be so heartless? At the same time I was reflecting on a post I wrote on the recent World AIDS Day – Are we “Getting to Zero”?: The HIV/AIDS blame game in Uganda.

This story really bothered me, the thought that a nurse could do such (to a child), made me sick in the stomach. Since then, I have followed the developments on this story. Once in a while I could catch a news byte to update myself on the case.

As I continued to follow the story I learned that there were actually two different narratives and both of them were victimizing the nurse. One said that “the nurse used the same syringe she had used on her self to give a child a shot yet she was aware that she is HIV positive” while the other said that “the nurse had injected the child with HIV positive blood”.

Mid last week I was listening to Sanyu FM’s news and the nurse’s case was mentioned again “the trial of the HIV positive nurse who injected a child with blood is set for Friday this week….. After the incident, the child was tested and found HIV positive yet the parents of the child are both HIV negative..”

The other day I met some people who are following this nurse’s case. They mentioned that they were from court and that the nurse had been denied bail. They asked whether I knew anything about that case.

I told them what I knew – basically the narrative that the media was spreading wildly; that the nurse injected a child with blood and infected her with HIV. Little did I know that this was far from the truth.

This is how I learned the other story, one that is not known to many. According to the people who have interacted with the nurse and the parents of the child, the nurse did not actually inject the child with blood.

What happened is that the child was on treatment and this nurse was supposed to administer a shot. Of course the nurse had a syringe in her hand. But we all know how much children fear pricking. So the child tried to resist and in the process the nurse pricked her (index) finger.

The mistake the nurse did is going ahead to use the syringe that had pricked her on the child – why she didn’t do this, you and I will probably never know but she (the nurse) insists that she didn’t have any ill intentions against the child.

The other thing I learned is, even though the nurse is HIV positive, apparently the child has been tested for HIV at least twice since the incident and she has tested negative on both occasions. If this is true, why does the Urban TV report – “Baby infected with HIV“?

What does this kind of reporting mean for the child in question. If the child is HIV negative, how will the narrative be reversed? Of course normally the media will rush into reporting without thinking about the damage this could cause to this child, her family or even the nurse who now seems to be a public enemy.

The media has succeeded in telling us just what we want to hear. Human nature is characterized with complaining, victimizing and well, hypocrisy; the media uses those same characteristics to tell us a story that we can identify with, a story that will win our hearts. The New Vision picture below shows a picture of the nurse, Namubiru looking terrified.terrified-Namubiru

Once the media has set the ground with all their propaganda, the nurse story becomes of no relevance, even if she tells her story, how many people will be interested in listening to it? And this is where the danger of a single story comes in.

In the end, media houses have nothing to lose. People enjoy reading these unbalance because they are easier to understand and easy for the journalists to compile in a short time.

Here are some of the headlines from some of the most popular media houses in Uganda.

Nurse Who Injected Child With HIV Blood Denied Bail – Red Pepper

Woman arrested for injecting baby with HIV infected blood – New Vision

How a nurse injected baby with HIV blood – The Observer

Baby infected with HIV – Urban TV

Lack of professionalism  or Ignorance?

When I see stories like this in the media only one thing comes to my mind – that after many decades of reporting on HIV/AIDS, journalists and editors have learned nothing, nothing at all. Many journalists have failed to understand that they have a role to play in the fight against HIV/AIDS and that their role is not to spread the gospel of discrimination but to educate people through telling true and balanced stories.

“Our health reporting is really lacking, we need training to help us understand those scientific terms and jargon language….” I have seen journalists front this excuse on several occasions. Well, I am NOT buying that no more! We are talking about the basics here, if you cant tell a simple story as it is, without fabricating the facts, am afraid even training on health reporting won’t benefit you much.

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 10.18.06 AM

When I look at how the media has portrayed this nurse’s story, I feel hopeless. I learned that this nurse has a daughter. With this kind of reporting, the nurse becomes a public enemy even before the public knows verdict.

However, I still have faith that when the media and journalism is dies (if its not dead already), there are still people who are willing to tell and hear the balanced story, not to victimize or discriminate but to seek justice and make the world a better place.