Sixty two percent of journalists on essential services while on COVID 19 duty are without proper safety materials and or equipment, a survey conducted by the Nigerian Union of Journalist revealed.
In a press release by the Secretary NUJ FCT COVID 19 Intervention Committee, Titi Olademehin, she said that the online survey targeted at on-covid-19-duty media practitioners had 92 respondents from across the various media outlets cutting across Print and broadcast as well as online newspapers and televisions.
According to the survey conducted by the NUJ COVID 19 Sensitisation and monitoring committee, otherwise known as the Covid19 Intervention Committee, media participatory distribution showed 38% radio, 30% print 19% online participation and 13% TV journalists.
Media practitioners in their responses said their various organizations did not provide them with safety materials to meet the challenge of reporting Covid 19.
A Survey by the Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ), FCT Council has revealed that Journalists within the federal Capital territory are not well equipped to contend
with the horrors and challenges of COVID-19 which has recorded millions of confirmed cases globally, 318 cases in Nigeria and 58 cases in the FCT as at Saturday, April 11, 2020 when the survey was concluded. (Numbers stood at 684 confirmed cases as at 20th April 2020).
The Survey was conducted by the 7-man NUJFCT COVID-19 Intervention Committee which was inaugurated by the NUJ FCT Chairman, Emmanuel Ogbeche
on Tuesday, April 6, 2020.
In its Term of Reference (TOR), the Committee was charged to monitor the activities and safety of media Organizations and practitioners in the FCT; To act as go between for practitioners and government and media organizations and between the NUJ and members on the Covid-19 related matters; To collate the statistics of media practitioners working in sensitive areas and those who may need any form of support, work related or material needs; To mobilise financial
and material support as well as any incentive(s) or welfare package(s) for journalists who need them; To provide information from all reliable sources to journalists. Starting from the PTF and ministerial task force as well as the other bodies providing authentic information; and dispel rumors and discourage fake news, and help to sensitize and create awareness and build hope among journalists.
Recognizing Journalists as essential workers in the backdrop of COVID-19 prompted the NUJ, FCT Council on the need to look into the preparedness of journalists and media owners in protecting members as they go about their lines of duty.
This unfortunately is against the knowledge that besides being poorly paid, most media houses fail in the payments of salaries in the FCT as some media houses are
known to owe staff for years and in some cases months.
With such failure, it became imperative to study if journalists mostly health correspondents who are in the forefront of the COVID-19 Pandemic are provided with the necessary protection and support against the virus and if they had the necessary support to survive the shutdown of economic activities forced by the Pandemic.
The survey was via a sample covering 92 respondents drawn from Television, Radio, Newspaper and Online Journalists.
The survey produced background questions for Respondents which included measures taken to protect family, official provision against COVID-19, security assault while on duty, kitting for COVID-19 assignment, location of harassment or assault, media platforms, wearing of PPEs?, Observance of social distancing rules and awareness that one confirmed case is a threat to all
1. The survey revealed that among the respondents 28% were Editors,
Reporters were 16%, Correspondents were 8% Producers 8%, Presenters
7%, Directors 6%, Publishers/CEOs 4%, photo journalist 25 while others made 21% of the total respondents surveyed.
2. Media platform: 38% of Respondents worked with Radios, 30% worked with Print media houses, 19% worked with Online Medias while 13% worked with Television houses.
3. In response official provision against COVID-19:
62% observed there were no official provision by their media houses against COVID-19 duties,, 28% recognized partial provisions against the pandemic while 10% acknowledged full provisions for COVID-19 duties.
4. Kitted for COVID-19 assignment: 57% Respondents were kitted for COVID-19 duties, 30% were partially kitted for COVID-19 duties while13% were not kitted for COVID-19 duties.
5. Do you wear Protective Personal Equipment (PPEs)? 31% indicated they sometimes wore PPEs, 27% said they wear PPEs, 23% indicated they did not wear PPEs, 10% indicated they rarely wore PPEs and 9% indicated they mostly wore PPEs.
6. If Journalists observed social distancing rules:41% observed 2 meters social distancing rules, 29% were not too sure if they observed any social distancing rules, 12% said they observed 5 meters social distancing rules, 10% indicated they observed 6 meters social distancing rules while 8% indicated they observed no social distancing rules (None).
7. Security assault while on duty: 91% recorded no assault by security men while on duty while 9% recorded harassments and assault by security personnel in the line of COVID-19 duties.
8. Location of harassment or assault: 94% failed to acknowledged locations were harassments and assaults took place, 3% Recorded Mpape as location of harassment and assaults, 1% recorded Nyanya as their areas of harassments and assaults, another 1% recorded Lugbe as Area of harassments and 1% recorded Berger as areas of harassments.
9. In response taken to protect family 57% said they bathed constantly, 28% said they used sanitizers, 5% said they did nothing, were not sure or rarely,
5% were in isolation, lived alone or SD,3 % used sanitisers and 3% prayed.
10.Aware that one confirmed case is a threat to all and 44% respondents kept away from others,
40% abstained from others while 16% were neither here nor there.
Although journalists are aware of the danger of the virus, they are forced to be exposed while at work as they are not sufficiently kitted to ward off the virus.
This is a challenge to media houses to make it a rule that they supply their reporters with kits
This major issue confirms the fear of the NUJ FCT EXCO concern which informed the need to set up the NUJFCT SENSITISATION AND MONITORING COMMITTEE
That Media houses must ensure that provisions are made for safety gears, including sanitizers, masks for members of staff, particularly staff on COVID-19 duties.
That each media house must provide temperature detectors at their gates as well as ensure provision of sanitizers in the work place environment.
That media houses provide essential/hazard allowances for staff, particularly those in the front line of CORVID-19.
That media houses who fail to comply to the above directive be duly sanctioned.
That the NUJ may support chapel leadership who write to request for support clearly stating why they should be supported.
That a significant number of journalists in the field exposed to the hazards of the job are humans and not insulated from the difficult situations faced by all professionals in the field, thus the need to muster palliatives to enable them cushion the impact of the job on them and their families
That while owing staff salary has become a norm within the FCT and indeed Nigeria at large, that Media Owners must do right by our members by paying staff salaries and providing the necessary support in the course of their duties as we all battle to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.
Report complied by Ruth Tene
NUJ FCT COVID 19 INTERVENTION COMMITTEE