It is by no choice but a routine that many find themselves glued on the TV screens watching news; in every household, joints and other places.
The news plays a crucial part in how society operates. It wields great power over communities and can provide the opportunity for like-minded people to come together in support or opposition of events and issues they feel strongly about.
In the realm of diplomacy and foreign policy making, there has been talk of the “CNN factor”.
This is the ability of television to bring just about any conflict into the living rooms of the Western world.
Consequently, there would be public pressure on governments “to do something” as it is often said.
Someone once described three different types of people, who follow the news very differently;
There are the uninformed, who don’t really pay attention to anything outside their own purview.
Then there are those that are somewhat informed, who want to know what’s going on but either don’t want to or aren’t able to devote a lot of time to following the news. Then there are news junkies.
They say, today’s News is more accessible than ever, but the onus is on the viewer to find it. If you don’t want to watch TV to understand the world, your alternative is to go find it yourself.
That raises plenty of its significance: there’s more information than anyone can digest, tailored to specific targeted viewers. Many of the stories that are shown on news programmes are far-reaching and varied, just like the local newspaper, which divides its pages into a variety of different sections, including local, national and world news.
Rwanda currently boasts of many television channels, giving the citizens options of where to tune at every second. Additionally, switching from analogue to digital transmission has ensured a massive access to the many news channels.
The latest statistics reveal that the digital signal covers up to 95 per cent of Rwanda, thus reaching more people. This is one very great step as far as information sharing is concerned.
Meanwhile, as this sweet song of news rent the air, a serious question of one of the most important segment of the hour still lags on both our local and global scene of viewing.
Yes, Weather Forecast. Somewhat, a few countries or part of the world which occasionally experience unrelenting heavy and pathetic natural catastrophes would understand why this would be the only part of news where no one expects even a pin-drop detraction.
We have the luck of finding our daily business as usual with fair weather day in day out.
However, critically there are still many unforeseen uncertainties that come our way costing us relatively better living as a result.
To begin with, we understand that the entire flora and fauna species that occupy the earth depend very much on specific weather conditions for survival.
Therefore, there should be some concern in today’s world where we seem to be experiencing ever-increasing numbers of extreme weather events – from hurricanes and cyclones to flooding and droughts. Rwanda is not new to some of these calamities.
Weather observation is almost as old as humanity itself. Early man could anticipate the weather to some extent by watching the sky and the behavior of plants and animals.
But while some people still rely on local observations of natural phenomena to predict the weather, remarkable advances in technology and science, must have revolutionized our understanding of meteorology and our ability to provide skillful forecasts on longer and longer timescales.
There is need to take advantage of these benefits of watching weather forecast that have multiplied in the recent past as meteorologists provide information that is more and more accurate, long-term and user-specific. The largest percentage of our population depend on agriculture, consequently understanding the rain patterns by watching this segment during news hour has direct relevance and importance.
To be precise, adherence to weather forecasts will enable farmers to adapt more quickly to the arrival of too much or too little rain, while better climate forecasts will guide them in planting the best crops for the next season’s conditions.
Disaster managers will more efficiently fine tune how they position their resources in advance of likely floods or storms. Public health teams will roll out more timely and effective vaccination campaigns for weather- and climate-related diseases among other countless benefits.
In fact, it is sympathetic when seeing many get drenched in heavy downpour in a market or streets.
Something that most of us have fallen victim to but would be prevented by simply updating with the day’s forecast at the time of watching television’s News segment or listening to the radio on the same, thereafter make an informed choice of getting along with an umbrella or being under roof during the predicted time of rain.
With the explosion of computer technology, scientists have developed many computer models to help forecasters analyze and predict the weather with high levels of accuracy.
Watching weather focus at our News hour needs to be taken as a serious business and not just for the weather forecasters! I would urge our Television stations, including TVR, to broadcast weather forecasts just before major news items—at prime time.
The writer is a consultant and visiting lecturer at the RDF Senior Command and Staff College, Nyakinama.