Journalists lost to Covid-19 mourned on World Press Freedom Day

Devastating impact of the pandemic on media, deplorable situation in India

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Editors Guild demands repeal of draconian and antiquated sedition laws
World Press Freedom Day 3 May 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on the media, the Switzerland-based media rights and safety body Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) lamented on Friday 30 April 2021, in preparation for World Press Freedom Day on 3 May. The human cost of the pandemic is particularly high where over one thousand journalists have lost their lives due to novel Coronavirus aggravated ailments.

The rate of deceased journalists accelerated further in April with the deaths of 126 journalists in one month or four media victims per day. Since the pandemic broke out in March 2020, four countries have been particularly affected with more than one hundred journo-casualties each including Brazil (more than 183 media corona-casualties), Peru (140 dead), India (122), and Mexico (106).

We have lost over 50 journalists in just the past two weeks (3.5 per day) till 29 April 2021. From March 2020 to 29 April 2021, within 14 months, the PEC has counted more than 1,200 journalists who died from complications related to Covid-19 in 75 countries. (www.pressemblem.ch/)

Last year from 20 March to 20 November – 57 Indian journalists lost their lives to Covid-19. Altogether from March 2020 to 29 April 2021, 122 Indian journalists have lost their lives to Covid-19.

Journalists are particularly exposed to the Coronavirus, as many have been forced to continue working in contact with the population and often without personal protective gear. “This is an unprecedented slaughter and a great loss for the profession,” said PEC secretary-general Blaise Lempen adding, “On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, we call for honoring eminent colleagues of all ages who have not survived the pandemic.” Lempen appeals to all concerned governments to take action to help the media most affected and support the families of the victims on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day on 3rd May 2021.

The PEC also considers there is a need to distribute vaccines equally all over the world, to stop the spread of the virus and its new strains in developing countries. Vaccine production is limited and it is available for the wealthiest countries, preventing access to journalists in South America and South Asia. As long as this situation continues, deaths will keep on increasing, it added.

There is nevertheless a positive note in that the number of journalists’ deaths slowed sharply in Europe and North America, thanks to effective protection measures and the progress of vaccination. By region, Latin America tops the list of mortalities with more than half of the victims, 673 in 20 countries. Asia follows with 256 in 18 countries, then Europe with 175 in 19 countries. Africa comes next with 56 dead in 16 countries, ahead of North America with 47 in 2 countries.

India recently lost half a century journalists within two weeks to corona-complications,” said Nava Thakuria, PEC’s country representative adding that the populous country might have lost more journalists than documented, “as many media outlets in India prefer to tone done the corona casualties among their journo-colleagues. India’s neighbor Bangladesh recorded 52 journo-victims to Covid-19 followed by Pakistan (26 dead), Afghanistan (9), and Nepal (7). Other neighbors such as Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Myanmar have not reported a single corona media casualty.”

The robust Indian media fraternity has lately lost Rohit Sardana, Nilakshi Bhattacharyya, Aiyushman Dutta, Bhanu Prakash Rath, Manas Ranjan Jaipuria, Amjad Badshah, Sridhar Dharmasanam, Raju Mishra, Sadanand Shinde, Kakoli Bhattacharya, Kondra Srinivas Goud, Sammi Reddy, Akash Saxena, Khwaja Mujahiduddin, Anil Basnoi, Venga Reddy, Madiraju Harikrishna Giri, and Syed Shabaz, to the corona-pandemic.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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