GPU praises media amid covid-19

Monday, March 30, 2020

The Gambia Press Union (GPU) has hailed the media for what it called “professionalism and sacrifice in the fight to defeat the coronavirus pandemic,” as humanity faces war across all nations.

Below reads the message from the Union:

Dear Media Manager,

Hats off to you and your journalists and other media workers. The GPU is immensely impressed by your professionalism and sacrifice in the fight to defeat the coronavirus pandemic. War is upon humanity. Our nation is not spared. Our people need us more than ever before. We must stand our guard.

We recognise that doing so places us journalists at great risk of losing our lives.

Journalists and media workers are not immune to the coronavirus. Already, more than a dozen journalists have been infected. Earlier this week, one of us, Zororo Makamba, a 30-year-old Zimbabwean journalists died after contracting the infection. He was in fact the first to die from the virus in that country. We mourn his death and offer prayers for those infected to recover.

As journalists and media owners, we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to stay safe and sound in carrying out our functions. Besides, the people need us alive and well to report stories, not to be the story. No story is worth the life of a journalist. It is important that we equip ourselves and our journalists with at least the basic safety kits such as masks, hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes and the like to clean their equipment such as cameras, tape recorders and microphones after use each time.

Reporters must not also be forced to go to the field if they don’t want to go or if they don’t feel like it.

Media houses should endeavour to also monitor the daily well-being of their journalists by checking their temperatures or regularly speaking to them about their health.

The GPU remains at your service. We’ve developed a media advisory, adapted from some resources materials provided to us by our partners. The advisory provides guidance and guidelines to media houses and journalists, from how to keep safe to how to report stories around the pandemic. We encourage you to share it with your journalists and other media workers and implement it.

Additionally, we urge you to consider implementing measures aimed at improving the working conditions of journalists, including providing bonuses and health insurance. It is crucial that staff and freelance workers are at all times fully paid regularly and on time to take care of any unforeseeable matter or risk that may arise as they cover the pandemic.

It is, primarily, your responsibility as employers to disinfect your premises and put in place adequate safety.

New Allotment Area, Fajara P. O. Box 1440, Banjul, The Gambia Email: pressuniongambia@gmail.com Website: www.gambiapressunion.org Tel: +220 373 0077 or +220 7189376 or 4498215

25th March, 2020 procedures.

Further, you should provide your reporters with policy guidance and adequate information and more importantly, disinfectants and protective gears.

The times we are in challenge us as professionals to up our game. The credibility and integrity of our profession has been put on the line by the coronavirus pandemic. There is the issue of misinformation but also the adequacy of our efforts is being questioned and our capacity to sink to the bottom of the preparedness is being doubted. The time is never more appropriate to lay claim to our rightful place in society. In this regard, we urge you to put in place improved editorial routines to improve the media coverage of the pandemic. The information we provide or that we do not provide is what is making the greatest difference between who lives and who dies from the virus.

May I reiterate that the GPU remains at your service. We have, on your behalf, been engaging the government and other partners with a view to improving the environment for journalists and other media workers. We are open to suggestions from you on how to better serve our constituency.

Yours,

 Saikou Jammeh

 Secretary General Gambia Press Union