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.