New era journalism in pandemic
Hayati Arıgan – Sözcü Newspaper / GJC Member of Nationwide Media Assembly
Journalists, like health workers, fell right into the middle of the pandemic. Journalists who ignored their lives in events such as earthquakes, wars, disasters also took a position against the pandemic that we all faced for the first time. When we ask, “Journalism or human health?” many of our colleagues try to inform the public correctly by choosing journalism.
In the process, the working systems of journalists have changed. Newspapers and websites moved from home to a working model in a very short period of time, while courthouse, police, political surveillance, TV and agency reporters had to be on the field. As television channels entered the guest race, employees had to go to the channel buildings due to broadcasts. Most of the journalists caught in Covid-19 were employees of television channels.
Those working at home tried to catch the pitch, albeit from afar. The era of journalism has begun. Face-to-face interviews turned into virtual interviews. Journalists, who already had difficulty accessing official sources, were even more difficult to obtain information in the process. Reporters working in the field continued to report with fear, stress and anxiety of infecting their families with the virus.
During the pandemic period, the most important news sources in our country were the Ministry of Health, Health Professionals and health professional chambers. Apart from the daily press conferences of the health minister, the Turkish Medical Association(TMA) and the physician associations failed to produce alternative information. The Turkish people listened to some professors every day and memorized his name. With the pandemic, journalists did not encounter a very important practice of censorship. Because from the beginning, the numbers given were censored. Later, TMA’s research and explanations revealed the severity of the pandemic. The health minister had to explain the actual figures on the number of cases and patients.
JOURNALISTS ‘ RIGHTS LOSSES
During the outbreak, a large number of media workers suffered loss of rights. Some institutions received short work allowances and made their employees work full hours. Of journalists subject to 212, the number of premium days fell to 15. Pension and fraying rights have been disrupted. While some institutions have removed weekly permits for those who work from home, there is no such thing as overtime. At home, and journalists receiving short work allowances, food cheques and road money were not deposited.
THE LOCAL PRESS WAS MOST AFFECTED
During the pandemic, local sources and local journalists, who were the main source of national news, suffered the greatest damage. It has reached the point of closing to local newspapers. The state’s options for media organizations, such as short work allowances, were not enough for the media. While the total circulation of newspapers fell by close to 25%, there were significant increases in the traffic growth of news sites. However, advertising revenue for print, visual and digital media has fallen sharply.
WILL THIS PROCESS BECOME THE NEW NORMAL OF JOURNALISM?
While the media close to the government and the mainstream media continued their decline in the eyes of readers and viewers in the Pandemic, The Independent Media also failed to deliver the rise it wanted. I believe that journalism cannot be made to sit at home, while bringing to mind the question of whether the changes in the practice of journalism with the pandemic will be the “new Normal” of the profession.