The Editors Guild of India on Friday again demanded that journalists be given priority in vaccination against COVID-19, and also urged all media organizations to take necessary steps to ensure the safety of their scribes.
In a statement, the Guild condoled the deaths of journalists who have died because of COVID-19 over the past year. "In April 2021 itself, more than 52 journalists died because of the virus. Further, according to the Delhi-based Institute of Perception Studies, more than 100 journalists have died since the lockdown was first declared from April 1, 2020," the Guild said in a statement.
"Many of these were brave journalists who had been reporting on the worsening pandemic and bringing to fore stories on the great human tragedy that has been unfolding before us. It also includes editors and other members of the editorial teams who have ensured that newsrooms keep churning out these stories without any break," it said.
The Guild paid its homage to the fortitude and the commitment to work that these journalists have displayed over the past year.
The Guild said it is extremely distressed that the central government has yet not taken any steps to hasten the vaccination of journalists over the last few months.
Many of them were freelancers and hence were not insured, it added. "Others who worked for media organizations did not necessarily enjoy the assurance and comfort of being insured by their companies," it said.
"To make matters worse, besides the health risks borne out of such reporting, there have been the additional pressures from some of the state governments and agencies that have threatened against independent reporting of the pandemic in an effort to control the media narrative," the Guild said.
Few weeks ago, the Guild said it had demanded that journalists be declared as frontline workers and be vaccinated on priority to protect them from the new variant.
"Despite the support from various state governments and media organizations, the central government has not responded to this request. Now, even though vaccination has been technically opened for all above 18 years of age, there is an acute shortage of vaccines," it said.
Therefore, the Guild said it is urgent demand that journalists be given priority along with other frontline workers.
The Guild also urges all media organizations to take all the necessary steps to ensure the safety of their journalists, the statement said.
India saw 3,86,452 new coronavirus infections in a span of 24 hours, the highest single-day rise so far, pushing the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,87,62,976, while active cases crossed the 31-lakh mark, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday.