An appeal has gone to government at various levels to co-opt media practitioners as part of essential service providers to given preferential treatment as regard the fight against COVID-19 is concerned.
The Publisher, Parrot Xtra Magazine, Mr. Olayinka Agboola made the appeal while featuring on current affairs programme on Impact Business Radio, Ibadan.
He explained that role of the media particularly in a situation like this is very essential that can not be overlooked, especially when it comes to giving the public necessary information on what to and not to in combating the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Mr. Agboola, who is also the Chairman, South West Group of Online Publishers (SWEGOP), clarified that expression of kind gesture to the media should not be responsibility of government alone, saying that corporate bodies and well-to-do private individuals in the society should also lend their support in the struggle.
Mr. Olayinka maintained that distribution of stimulus package like Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should cut across all the front liners in the battle against COVID-19, which the media is also one, however, noted that the reverse is the case in Nigeria.
His words, “I am sorry to tell you that we are in a very serious situation in this part of the world, apart from the media, the people that are directly involved, the health care delivered, the doctors, the nurses, the laboratory technicians, they don’t have one-tenth of what they need to work. If the governments as I am talking to you can not provide these critically important people what they need, they will never think about the media.
“Meanwhile, media people are supposed to be included to report situation of things, but as it is nobody is thinking about the media practitioners’ well-being in this part of the world,” he said.
While speaking about economic implications of COVID-19 as regard media industry, Mr. Agboola reiterated that it is likely the media industry suffers the hit most when coronavirus eventually goes away.
“If we are not careful the media industry will be one of the worst hit after this pandemic goes away, the reason are : number one, the government is not thinking about the practitioners. Number two, before the pandemic the media industry is already wumbling and fumbling and this will just make it worst.”
The Parrot Xtra boss, in his opinion on whether journalists should also be working from like others from different professions, said that it is practically impossible for all journalists to be working from home. He established that they need to go out to get first hand information, see and observe true situation of the developments.
He listed the editors, the proof readers and some others that will work on information from the field among those that can actually work from.
Mr. Olayinka, therefore, enjoined all journalists to at every point in time maintain balance and ensure objectivity in their reports.
While cautioning them to be wary of politicians who might want to use them to achieve their selfish goals, the Parrot Xtra boss urged them not to go out when the occasion is not demand.