“Journalists have been facing the full brunt of the Coronavirus. Many of our colleagues have been hospitalized, and sadly we have lost many friends too. The worst aspect is that instead of standing by us, most employers have used this opportunity to rationalize their businesses and retrench many employees. They have fired hundreds of our colleagues and cut their wages too. The central and state governments have offered tacit support to this bloodbath and have remained mute spectators”, says AiMea Gen Secretary, Ajayshree Ghate.
To take stock of the current situation and to make illustrations to respective authorities, a joint meeting of various journalist’s organisations such as Mumbai Press Club, Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh, Mantralaya And Vidhimandal Vartahar Sangh, Bombay News Photographers Association, TV Journalists Association, All India Media Employees Association (AiMea), Mumbai Mahanagar Palika Patrakar Sangh and Marathi Patrakar Parishad held a meeting to discuss various concerns related to the scribes of state.
The meeting took note of the high toll COVID has taken, especially among field journalists, both in the number of deaths and those who faced serious illness and hospitalization. Therefore, it was decided to compile a list of working journalists who have lost their lives over the last year in Mumbai and Maharashtra. They will share the list with both central agencies like the Press Council of India (which has set up a special committee to study the problem of job losses during the pandemic) as well the Press Information Bureau for the assistance under the Journalist Welfare Scheme.
It was also decided to compile a list of journalists who have lost their jobs in the past year in Maharashtra by termination or by forced resignation. This list will be submitted to the Press Council of India for further action. Members and journalists are requested to furnish details.
The Task Force of journalist organisations, it was decided, would also work towards setting up a ‘War Room’ with secretarial support to track and provide help wherever possible for journalists. It was also decided to request the Maharashtra government to appoint a nodal officer and a panel of doctors to help journalists and their family members in case of COVID related emergencies.
The meeting condemned the Maharashtra government for not providing recognition as ‘Essential Workers’ to journalists and for excluding them from using public transport during the lockdown. While the Press Club and other organisations have written letters to the Government of Maharashtra in this respect, it was decided to lead a delegation to the Hon’ Chief Minister to demand journalists be given due professional respect including the right to use public transport.