Media/civil society groups have demanded increased welfare of journalists during the outbreak of COVID-19.
The groups also called for special protection and support for journalists covering the outbreak of the virus in Nigeria.
The groups made the demand following a survey to assess the support available to journalists for their safety in covering the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism, Enough is Enough, International Press Centre, the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, and Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism, commissioned the survey following perceptions that journalists were being exposed to danger in the course of covering the pandemic.
The survey, filed by 463 journalists -- correspondents, reporters, editors, freelancers and presenters from 73 print, broadcast and online media across 33 states and the Federal Capital Territory – revealed that there has been a poor attention to the needs, safety and welfare of journalists covering the pandemic.
Drawing from responses from the survey, the media/civil society groups have urged media proprietors to ensure that reporters on the field are adequately insured and financially empowered as they urged media outfits owing salaries to immediately pay their journalists.
They also demanded that media organisations should, “Establish workplace policy and follow the same to equip their journalists with specialised and personal protective equipment including for observation of social distancing while on the field.
“Provide training to journalists on how to crowd source information for their stories without having to necessarily go to the field; and explore technological options for interviews while in-house infrastructure should be put in place to ensure the safety of employees and guests (particularly for broadcast media) in line with the safety advisory of the government and health authorities.”
They also enjoined freelance journalists to take advantage of reporting grants and other opportunities to procure personal protective equipment while covering the pandemic.
Following the outbreak, media outfits are beginning to introduce reduction in salaries, with organisations citing economic importance as reason for the deduction.