The Standard Group PLC has issued an apology following a fake story aired by one of its radio stations, Spice FM.
Spice FM had on Tuesday, November 24, during “The Situation Room” morning show aired a discussion that four Class Eight pupils had succumbed to Covid-19 at an unnamed school in Kisumu County.
Radio presenter Erick Latif reported that a parent identified as Donald had shared his heartbreaking experience after his 12-year-old son died of Covid-19 along with his three cube mates.
“Boy goes back to school in Kisumu … is a very active child… footballer…developed a slight cold and was just sneezing once in a while. Following morning goes to shower with his cube mates…. he falls down and he can’t breathe…. the other boys come to his rescue and call two teachers…” the presenter narrated.
The presenter added, “He was rushed to the hospital but unfortunately he passed away after testing positive of Covid-19. It gets sad because the three boys who came to his rescue have also died and the two teachers are in ICU.”
The story turned out to be false.
In a retraction statement seen by this writer, the media house apologized to the station’s listeners, online viewers and all customers for the erroneous information.
“The listener, claiming to be the parent of one of the allegedly deceased pupils, strenuously and persuasively described his version of events, and despite repeated attempts, we were unable to convince him to relay his story directly on air. Since airing the discussion, we have established that the parent in question is of dubious character and that no such deaths had occurred, ” the statement dated November 26 reads.
“The Situation Room is a truth-telling show. We pride ourselves in giving Kenyans the best obtainable substance of the truth, on matters of national and international importance, every weekday morning. But on this one, we admit that we made a wrong judgment call, we failed our listeners and the public. The broadcast fell short of our usual rigorous standards and for that, we unconditionally retract the content.
“Moving forward, we pledge to ensure that all our shows apply the highest standards of fact-checking and ethical journalistic principles, and that we undertake our journalistic duty with the care, diligence and integrity that all Kenyans have come to expect from us.”
Yesterday, the Ministry of Education through Kisumu County Director of Education, Isaac Atebe, confirmed that the report was false.
Atebe said the ministry had conducted a survey in all public and private boarding schools to establish the claim and to their knowledge, there were no such reports made.
“In addition, the county director of public health Kisumu and the County director TSC have confirmed that no pupil was admitted nor any teacher currently in ICU over Covid-19 cases as at November 25,” Atebe said.