UNICEF issues guidelines for journalists reporting in COVID-19

Reporting on COVID-19 is challenging and unprecedented. Journalists and media persons are required to move out of their home at the call of their duty in this trying time.

A set of safety guidelines are issued for all journalists who may run into risk of getting infected.

The safety guidelines are as outlined below:

  1. Mantra
    Let us remember the Mantra: Our responsibilities are to cover news and not to become news. We should not be instrumental in spreading this Corona Virus or COVID-19. We not only have a responsibility towards our own selves but also to our families and society in general.
  2. Hand Wash
    Wash your hands as often as you can with soap for at least 20 seconds. If there is no water, carry wet wipes and then use the sanitizer. Wash your hands afterwards as soon as you can. Don’t forget to sanitize your mobile phones using alcohol-based sanitizers.
  3. Distant Recording
    If a spokesperson of Government, senior official or Minister is giving a statement, agree amongst yourselves to record them from at least six feet away. Try to stand without huddling. Better still, convince dignitaries to conduct digital press conferences with questions from journalists taken up live. There are plenty of technological platforms (e.g. zoom, skype, or any other platform) available today to make this happen.
  4. Clean Microphones
    Radio and TV Reporters please do not touch the mics at all. Use disinfectant solutions to disinfect the equipment after your return. After which hands must be washed with soap and sanitized.
  5. Avoid Lapel Mic
    Avoid clip-on mics to avoid physical contact and to maintain appropriate distance. Use directional mics as much as you can and hold it from a distance.
  6. Hand-Held Shots
    If you are in a contaminated facility, do not place your equipment on the floor. Do a hand-held shoot.
  7. On Return
    On your return remove your clothes immediately and take bath. Wash your clothes in hot water and soak in disinfectant. Keep one pair of outdoor shoes that you remove at your door when you get home. Wash them whenever you can. Keep a pair of outdoor shoes. Disinfect your belongings like purse, comb, key chain, note-book, pen, etc., and keep them somewhere near the entrance. Don’t go close to children and the aged people.
  8. Public Transport
    If you are using public transportation, use sanitizer on your hands as soon as you get off. If you have access to water, then wash your hand with soap. DO NOT TOUCH YOUR FACE without sanitizing your hand.
  9. Eat Well Boiled Food
    Try and stick to locally sourced well cooked food while on assignment.
  10. Wear Mask
    You may consider wearing a mask in your office. You have no idea who has been exposed or where they’ve been. Change it as soon as it gets damp. Remove it from the elastic bands and do not touch the mask itself. Put the new one on touching only the elastic bands. If possible, try to use N95 masks or you may make home-made masks.
  11. Distant Seating
    At a press conference, try to get everyone to sit leaving two seats vacant between two people. If that’s not possible, stand maintaining a clear distance.
  12. Don’t remain in Empty Stomach
    Take time out to snack on fruit, maintain a healthy diet and do not skip meals no matter how pressing the assignment may be. Do not move and work in empty stomach.
  13. Use phone, mobile date and net to gather Information
    Try and get as much information gathering done on the Internet and phone. For the next few weeks, at least, we must avoid exposure as much as possible.
  14. Hygiene in Workstations
    Your newsroom should maintain hygiene. Sanitizing surfaces twice a day with disinfectants is a must. All laptops, desktops, machines, and surfaces should be disinfected. Have disinfectant at the entrance. Please sanitize your hand and equipment and then enter the newsroom.
  15. If you develop infection symptoms
    If you experience onset of corona virus infection symptoms, report to your office and doctors and immediately self-isolate yourself.
  16. Work from Home is a must for Vulnerable
    Pregnant women and elderly people should work from home.
  17. Cover coughs & sneeze
    Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow. Throw used tissues in the trash. Immediately wash your hands with soap. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

    Note: Chennai Press Club and UNICEF acknowledges support of Professor Mrinal Chatterjee, Regional Director, IIMC, Dhenkanal, Odisha and Press Club Kolkata for reproducing the safety guidelines in Tamil and English.

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