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.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital 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.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Indian Printer and Publisher’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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