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EditorialTaking care of safety of journalists

Taking care of safety of journalists

It is ironic that the reporter who died in a tragic accident on GT Road while covering the long march did not get what she deserved when she was alive. Now, the Punjab government has appointed a committee to investigate the death of Sadaf Naeem. Channel 5 reporter Sadaf Naeem lost her life while covering PTI’s long march. She was crushed under the former premier’s trailer after she fell off of it. Immediately after the commotion, Imran Khan and his close aides got off the trailer to check on her. However, she had lost her life by then. The Punjab government has announced that it will give Naeem’s family Rs5 million. The reporter was trying to climb the trailer for exclusive reports for her channel. Two more people from the journalist community also fell off the trailer but survived. Imran Khan called off the march for the day, and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, President Arif Alvi and others expressed their sorrows. Imran Khan also visited the family on Monday to express his condolences.

In order to get exclusive news stories for their respective channels, reporters go to unprecedented lengths without any regard for their safety. News channels constantly want hot takes and breaking news for their ratings, and journalists have to get those if they want to keep their job. No specific training is provided before reporters go out on the field. Like every other profession, journalists must also get training for the coverage of such events. Rallies and long marches draw thousands of people. Usually, in crowds, it is every man for himself. If someone falters, they are, more often than not, crushed. Even though Sadaf Naeem had a reporting experience of 12 years, she was still pushed towards death. Therefore, news channels must provide an adequate amount of training before reporters are led onto the field. According to a statement made to the police on Sunday night, the spouse of reporter Sadaf Naeem, has opted not to pursue “any form of legal action.”

Sadaf Naeem’s incident is not a solitary one. Earlier, while covering a rally, reporter Irza Khan fell from a crane while she was on camera. It was later revealed that she was not feeling well on that day but she still came to work as it is extremely difficult to get even sick leave in this industry. Although she survived and is now back as a journalist, that event left her with lifelong trauma. The industry must be blamed here as the working conditions are extremely stringent and the pay is so low that people try to do as much work as they can in all conditions. Without fearing for their lives reporters climb onto stages or containers only so that they can get some exclusive content for their channel.

The government and the journalism industry must establish some training centres that will equip journalists for the coverage of such events. Moreover, their pay should not be based on the achievement of such dangerous goals. Safety should come first and foremost. Lastly, those conducting rallies must give journalists some exclusive time so that they don’t have to go to such lengths.

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