The global death toll due to the coronavirus pandemic has already crossed 10,000 and each day the number of people infected is seeing a drastic rise. All the major cities of the world have called for a lockdown, while people are being encouraged to practice social distancing. While restricting themselves to their homes, people are dependent on the media to know latest updates about coronavirus and stay occupied and entertained. Our homes are buzzing with news on TV and radio; while some people are compulsively scrolling news content on their phones. By informing, alerting and entertaining the self-isolated audience thus, media is bridging the gap between the world outside and those housebound. But how are those working in the sector of media protecting themselves from COVID-19? What precautions are reporters, radio jockeys and newsroom anchors taking to be safe from the pandemic?
SheThePeople.TV spoke with some renowned faces in the media to know how they are staying safe.
Work from home and Social distancing
The central government advised all citizens to practice social distancing and asked firms to let their employees work from home. Many media outlets have also adopted this work culture. On being asked how she is coping with the deadly COVID-19, leading Entertainment Content Strategy & Partnership Consultant, Priyanka Sinha Jha said that she has been working from home.
Radio presenters at our radio station are working from home with microphones and software connected to our central server. If we need to interact or engage with our listeners or show guests, that is being done on the phone.- HrishiKay, 94.3 Radio One
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How radio jockeys are working from home
RJ Hrishikesh Kannan popularly known as HrishiKay producer and radio host at 94.3 RadioOne told us how radio presenters are working from home, He said, “FM radio is not news media we don’t have a news license. So radio presenters at our radio station are working from home with microphones and software connected to our central server. If we need to interact or engage with our listeners or show guests, that is being done on the phone. The whole idea is to maintain social distancing & yet not let the broadcast suffer”
Similarly, Radio Host Rohini Ramanathan said, “We are working from home. We are not going to the studios. They have set-up the radio booths at our houses. We are avoiding commutes, interviews and doing everything on voice notes.”
Sucharita Tyagi, a freelance journalist and film critic said she had been practicing full social isolation to keep herself safe. Due to cinema halls shutting down and no new movies releasing, Sucharita says she is starting her own, “ghar se movie review” series on her instagram handle to talk about all the films she is watching on OTT platforms.
At the end of the day, we need journalists to function, for us to be able to function, because without information this battle against the virus would be close impossible to fight. – Faye D’Souza
How is the mainstream media coping with COVID-19?
As Hrishikesh Kannan rightly pointed out, there is a difference between how radio stations and the mainstream news media works. While most of the radio stations have implemented work from home policies, the mainstream news media is dependent on field-reporting. Broadcast journalist and former news anchor with The Times Network Faye D’Souza told SheThePeople, “I have four people working with me right now. We have been working from home since Saturday. But the more mainstream journalists are out on the field.” Speaking further about how mainstream media is undertaking measures to ensure the safety of their reporters, she added, “I spoke to some reporters who told me they are staying in one location all day to avoid coming in contact with too many people but it is a tough situation. Most channels seem to have reduced the staff in their offices .”
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Importance of journalism in times of coronavirus
D’Souza also spoke about the pivotal role of journalists in fighting the pandemic and why it is important to ensure their safety. She said, “At the end of the day, we need journalists to function, for us to be able to function, because without information this battle against the virus would be close impossible to fight. It is up to management teams of each organisation to ensure that the reporters are not unnecessarily exposed to risk and they are given all the precautionary gear that is possible for now.”
How the government is ensuring the safety of journalists
While most of the public places in Delhi are shut to stop the spread of the virus, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal expressed his concerns for the safety of the journalists also. In a tweet, he wrote, “All Delhi Govt. press conferences will be conducted digitally now. It’s very important that all journalists, who are on the forefront of our battle against Corona, also protect themselves as they are in a high exposure environment.”
Rudrani Kumari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV.