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Saturday, April 11, 2020

Media is providing no less an emergency service

Editorial Desk :
Newspapers reported that government on Thursday issued new directives dropping mass media from the list of emergency services that would remain out of the purview of the transport shutdown and restriction of movement imposed to check transmission of coronavirus. The leaders of journalists' associations cautioned that if the government decides to exclude newspapers from the list, it would be suicidal and if the journalists are not allowed to move freely, there would be a lack of information and the country would be badly affected by rumours. Even during wars, movement of journalists is not restricted by formulating laws. The Thursday's directives were issued outlining that people and vehicles associated with emergency services and supply chain will remain out of the purview of the transport shutdown and restriction of movement imposed to check transmission of coronavirus. The government on March 25 declared public holiday from March 26 to April 4 aiming to prevent coronavirus spread. Second time, the holidays were extended until April 14. Third time the holidays were extended yesterday upto April 25.
We are sure excluding mass media from the list of emergency services is accidental. The leaders of journalists' associations instantly reacted. That was all right. But they should have pointed to the extreme situation in which the journalists are working to give the government correct situation on pandemic as far as possible. They are providing one of the most urgent services. That is not being appreciated. Because of the shutdown of businesses the media have been deprived of getting revenue from

advertisement. They are not receiving payments in most cases for advertisement published. The financial crisis is most hard hit. So far no definite promises or steps of financial assistance for their wages, though expected, from the government are made clear.
When the governments in some COVID-19 affected countries are hiding the actual figures of death or the number of affected people, we do not want that to happen here. This is no less an emergency service for both the government and the people.