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Media workers as unsung heroes in COVID-19 pandemic frontline



Most times, media job in Nigeria comes across as a futile venture. The enterprise  is so thankless and arduous  that even when operators are in the frontline of an emergency as  they often do their yeoman’s  roles, it is not recognised. 

 WITHIN the coronavirus pandemic era, journalists have been in the frontline amid hikes in transportation, lockdown and risk of contracting the disease but nobody seems interested or observant enough to recognise or acknowledge them. No organisation, group or government has deemed it proper for these professionals who are at the frontline in this fight to be protected and provided with protective kits, palliatives and even given requisite  insurance covers.

UNLIKE media operators, within the current coronavirus pandemic, those working  in the health sector and security agents regularly ramp up encomiums and welfare packages, while no one talks about what is due to journalists.

OPERATORS in the media are either poorly paid or not paid at all in Nigeria. No matter how powerful what they are doing are, the society, private entrepreneurs, states and governments in Nigeria tend not to  find them worthy of praise or reward like in other countries. They prefer picking holes and raining condemnations on the media. It appears the  only quick responses the media get in this country from governments and even law enforcement agents are: kill them, trample upon them, chase them away, molest them, seize their fundamental human rights and silence them permanently.

  The trend is so nasty but tolerable here that in other countries, Nigeria’s mode of media financing and ownership is openly frowned at.  A typical example is when a media operator in Nigeria went to set up a publishing  post in South Africa and began to exhibit the traits of nonchalance to staff emolument and welfare. The country and industry frowned at his not paying the journalists. In a short while, the newspaper was   chased  out of the country after compelling the proprietor  to pay the journalists he employed.

  IN NIGERIA, media operators live from hand to mouth and it is dangerous because one hungry journalist is a dangerous society waiting to be created. This is because a small report from a journalist can set a country ablaze.

  RECALL that a story from a cob reporter in 1999, on Miss World Pageant   that was merely one flaw of desk editing nearly  set Nigeria  ablaze just like  one small controversial cartoon in a Denmark tabloid, not a mainstream broadsheet,  almost set the whole world in flames.

  Even  before the end of the pandemic, there is already the  fear of job loss  among journalists.

  NOTWITHSTANDING the  hazards the media men overcome daily to serve the people,  a possible backlash of the pandemic if no bailouts come the way of the media either by the government or well-meaning individuals and media friendly organisations  is high loss of revenue from advertising, subscriptions and sales which are the main sources of support of the industry. This would ultimately lead to the closure of most media houses of most or mass sack of operators.

  EVEN the concerns raised in the communique of the National Media Virtual Roundtable by media stakeholders in partnership with Action Aid Nigeria and Journalists Against Poverty, on Monday,  disregard of journalists’ input in the nation’s building may lead to a lull in the nation’s and states’ return after COVID-19.

Frontline media  stakeholders and government personalities while articulating a  guide to effective  bailouts in the media industry without prejudice as obtained in the banking, telecommunication and aviation sectors emphasised the necessity of such aid now.

 THE experts noted that it is likely  the media will be more challenged in the post-pandemic era as people are not  likely to be placing adverts, subscriptions and other revenue accruing ventures.

  IT IS therefore high time government considered establishing  insurance schemes without waiting for journalists, media organisations or unions to do so.

National Light believes there is need for a media summit on how best to handle the media as everything about COVID-19 shows that  the world is worse off if it does not pay attention to social communication. Media in Nigeria is not  different from the ones  in other  countries .

  ALREADY, a lot of fake news in the social media has made the society not to respond positively to government’s directives on safety measures.   It is the job of the media to sensitise the people but if they are not well mobilised, they cannot do much.

  WHERE a society refuses to accord the media their due recognition, there could be  a society where governance will be difficult for both the government and the governed and if the  media is eventually pushed to down tools, the society and the people will go into darkness. There is no prize in guessing what that portends.

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