Journalists reporting on public interest issues have shared the problems they faced in the wake of COVID-19 lockdown. In a Zoom meeting with Freedom Forum on May 14, reporter with Annapurna Post, Shiva Upreti, expressed that the pandemic of COVID-19 has become a new threat to local newspapers as the publications have shut down in Gorkha. This crisis has piled pressure on the local newspaper industry at all levels.
Similarly, reporter with Nagarik daily, Shivahari Ghimire, informed that the newsroom meeting has now turned into virtual ones. “We are not getting the back up as we used to get before. Nowadays, maintaining social distancing in the wake of lockdown, we are not able to communicate with people easily to deliver an authentic news story”, he added.
At the same time, the pages of the print media have decreased. The race for the placement of news story is very challenging. With the reduction of the pages, even the stories of public interest are sidelined.
“The tussle between the health workers and journalist is another reason of concern. The health workers are somehow technical in the field whereas journalists are simple and clear. It is tough to convince them with simple explanation. They need to be flexible in this critical situation. The technicalities of the health workers create further confusion,” said Rama Luitel from Himalaya Times daily.
Similarly, editor with Nuwakot Jagaran daily Shiva Devkota pointed out that the health of the health workers is more important. So, they need to be encouraged to combat the spread of coronavirus.
On the occasion, Chief Executive at FF, Taranath Dahal, shared that although online media are coming fore in the pandemic; eventually the advertisers will go back to print media. It is the most crucial time and the reporters can cover more public interest issues. Journalists should maintain utmost safety and reach to people and cover issues on budget allocation to local levels, quarantine status, and rehabilitations.
The zoom meeting was held on 14 May 2020 as part of the program “Civil Society Mutual Accountability Project (CS: MAP)” with the support of FHI360. It was attended by 10 participants. Out of 10 participants, there were 2 females in the event.