The Nigeria Union of Journalists has called on federal and state governments to urgently provide safety kits and palliatives to journalists to enable them to do their work effectively in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NUJ National President, Chris Isiguzo, made the call in a statement on Saturday in Abuja.
Isiguzo said it was imperative that governments would provide the safety kits and palliatives for journalists to work in safety and relative comfort.
He said: “It is important that government comes up with ways of cushioning the effects of COVID-19 pandemic on media houses to ensure they sustain the tempo of coverage.
“Regrettably, while the COVID-19 crisis confines the nation with unprecedented health, social and economic consequences, journalists are more than ever essential in publishing quality information.”
Isiguzo added that journalists had become more vulnerable because they were at the forefront of daily reportage of developments from the pandemic.
He said: “Various states of the country are already on lockdown and the citizens confined to their homes but journalists are out there ensuring that the people are well informed of developments surrounding the rampaging COVID-19.
“Nothing indeed compares with the events of recent weeks in terms of the global impact on media around the world, of Covid-19 and the unprecedented scale of the story and the demands it is making on journalism and journalists.”
Isiguzo called on journalists to bear in mind that responsible and ethical journalism was vital to reporting COVID-19.
He said: “We must avoid sensationalism and scare mongering, avoid racial profiling, ensure protection of affected persons to avoid stigmatisation.”
According to Isiguzo, journalists must ensure accuracy and seek expert opinion where necessary as well as provide context.
He urged journalists to stay safe as the pandemic was taking its toll on the people.
The NUJ president said: “In the event of any emergency, the following lines are available for journalists to reach out to the national secretariat – 08076032723, 08034004239.”