Journalists covering the Covid-19 pandemic in Nigeria have demanded for the payment of additional monetary allowance apart from salary to help them cushion the effects of the dangers in covering the pandemic.
Nigerian journalists made this demand in a survey conducted by a group of media and civil society groups between April 27 and May 1 this year “to assess the support available to journalists for their safety in covering the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria”.
The Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ), Enough is Enough (EiENigeria), International Press Centre (IPC), the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR), and Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ), commissioned the survey following perceptions that journalists were being exposed to danger in the course of covering the pandemic.
The journalists who responded to the survey said they lack sufficient protection and are not adequately catered for.
Apart from the additional monetary allowance, they also requested for the payment of outstanding salaries by owing employers.
The demands of the journalists also include “Special Covid-19 coverage insurance package; Specialized training on COVID-19 reporting; Provision of face masks; and Provision of specialized equipment to enable social distancing while on the field.”
Following the poor attention to the safety and welfare of journalists covering the pandemic as revealed by the survey, the organisations in a press statement signed by Lanre Arogundade, Director, International Press Centre, called on media owners and managers to “Widen the scope of their support to ensure that reporters on the field are adequately insured and financially empowered while those owing salaries should have them paid
“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.”
The organizations also enjoined freelance journalists to take advantage of reporting grants and other opportunities to procure personal protective equipment while covering the pandemic.
The six organisations also charged media development, civil society groups and other stakeholders to lead campaigns and advocacies for the safety of and support for journalists covering the Covid-19 pandemic.
A total of 463 male and female journalists participated in the survey. They included correspondents, reporters, editors, freelancers and presenters from 73 print, broadcast and online media across 33 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
Of the 463 respondents, 65 percent said their employers had not provided them with any support during assignment while only 35 percent said they had been provided with some form of support.