COVID-19: Publish names of persons who’ve recovered, CSOs, media practitioners tell FG

Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Media practitioners have called on the federal government to publish names and locations of persons who have recovered or succumb to the COVID-19 pandemic as part of measures to make the public believe the disease is real but can be treated.

They made the call in a joint  communiqué  issued after a two-day virtual training for Journalists on Humanitarian Crisis Reporting organised by ActionAid Nigeria from June 22-25, 2020 as part of the implementation of the Strengthening Citizens Resistance Against Prevalence of Corruption (SCRAP-C) project.

They said journalists and humanitarian workers are also vulnerable to the coronavirus and should therefore; ensure they do not become the news in the course of duty by observing all known safety protocols.

They also called journalists  to apply psychological first aid to members of the public through their stories and  be mindful of their storytelling approach while reporting COVID-19.

They said while the media have been involved in the coverage of COVID-19 response in the country, only very little has been done to show how the pandemic is affecting the lives of the average Nigerian.

“The media and journalists lack the requisite tools to cope with the challenges and new realities thrown up by the pandemic, a situation that has made many journalists rely on the dry statistics daily churned out by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, the Presidential Task Force and the task forces in the states across the country.

“While there are no known protocols barring journalists from revealing the identities of persons recovering or affected by COVID-19 in Nigeria, state actors and politicians have continued to keep the information away from members of the public.

“Reference was made to the New York Times that published all the names of persons who have contracted the virus, those who recovered and those who succumbed to it. 

“Media organisations in Nigeria are yet to properly adjust to the new realities of operating in the COVID-19 environment, including the adoption of containment protocols into operational systems and provision of PPE and specialised gadgets for reporters. 

“Human interest angles in the reportage of the COVID-19 realities in the country are still largely unexplored by journalists.

“The strategy adopted by the PTF, NCDC and task forces at the state levels in handling the COVID-19 response plan has created doubt in the minds of not only members of the public but also among journalists in the country,” they said.

The training was attended by 39 journalists from Lagos, Kano, Akwa-Ibom, Enugu, Kaduna, Borno states and FCT as well as representatives of Civil Society Organisations. 

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