From Maduabuchi Nmeribeh
The National Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), on Saturday, urged the Federal and state governments to, as a matter of urgency, provide safety kits and palliatives for journalists covering the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
The NUJ also tasked journalists to report responsibly and avoid sensationalism as it is the duty of all to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world is roundly defeated.
According to a Media Release signed by the National President and National Secretary of NUJ, Comrade Chris Isiguzo and Shuaibu Usman Leman, NUJ wishes to stress the fact that one of the fundamental rights of the citizen is to be well informed and that quality information is only possible in a safe environment where freedom of expression, freedom to inform and the right to know are exercised.
The Media Release further stated that: “Regrettably, while the Covid-19 crisis confines the nation with unprecedented health, social and economic consequences, journalists are more than ever essential in publishing quality information. And this should be accomplished in complete safety.
“At the moment, journalists have become even more vulnerable because they are at the forefront of daily reportage of developments from this pandemic. Various states of the country are already on lockdown and the citizens confined to their homes but one thing remains constant; journalists are out there ensuring that the people are well informed of developments surrounding the rampaging Coronavirus.
“Nothing indeed compares with the events of recent weeks in terms of the global impact on media around the world of Covid-19 and the unprecedented scale of the story, and the demands it is making on journalism and on us as journalists.
“It has therefore become imperative that we urgently call on the Federal and State Governments to provide safety kits and palliative to Journalists to enable them do their work in safety and relative comfort. Its also of great importance that government must come up with ways of cushioning the effect of this pandemic on Media houses in order to ensure they sustain the tempo of their coverage of this pandemic.
“Journalists on assignment should bear in mind that responsible and ethical journalism is vital to the reporting of this pandemic.
“We must avoid sensationalism and scare mongering, avoid racial profiling, ensure the protection of affected persons to avoid stigmatization; maintain accuracy and report facts; seek expert opinion where necessary and provide context and point people to authoritative and credible information sources and resources in view of the prevalence of fake news, among others.
“Most importantly, we must ensure that we stay safe bearing in mind that the pandemic is already taking its toll on all of us. In event of any emergency, the following lines are available for journalists to reach out to the National Secretariat: 08076032723, 08034004239.”