Governments must treat journalists as frontline corona warriors: World Association of Press Councils

NEW DELHI: The World Association of Press Councils, an umbrella body of press councils and similar media organisations around the globe, called on governments to treat journalists as frontline corona warriors fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

The WAPC, while observing the World Press Freedom Day, also asserted that journalists should be vaccinated on a priority basis so that they remain safe while doing their duty, a statement said.

Eminent journalists from all across the world urged the governments of countries to come to the aid of journalists at this critical time since they are fighting with the crisis like doctors and other front line workers.

Addressing a webinar, the WAPC president, Sule Akre, a renowned columnist and chairperson of the North Cyprus Press Council, expressed serious concern over the situation in India which has witnessed death of many journalists both in the first and second wave.

This year’s World Press Freedom Day has been conceptualised by UNESCO with the theme “Information as a Public Good”.

Participants from Asia, Europe and Africa took part in the online meeting.

The WAPC passed a resolution condoling the demise of all journalists during the pandemic.

Prakash Dubey, Editor of Dainik Bhaskar group, quoted Delhi-based Institute of Perception Studies, to state that as many as 101 journalists have succumbed to COVID-19 between April 1, 2020 and April 28, 2021.

Munish Gupta, president of the South Asian Foreign Correspondent Club, talked about how media groups have come together to meet the crisis.

The theme of the day this year is more appropriate in the COVID-19-hit world considered to be the pandemic of the century than ever before, Kishore Shrestha, Secretary General of WAPC, said.

The World Press Freedom Day calls for urgent attention to the threat of extinction faced by local news media around the world, a crisis worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

The World Press Freedom Day acts as a reminder to governments for the need to respect their commitment to press freedom, Shrestha said.

It is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics, he said.

Ziada Kilobo of Tanzania Media Council spoke about the COVID-19-hit African countries.