NEW DELHI, April 15 - National journalists unions have expressed deep anguish and concern over developments in media that include suspension of publications, salary cuts and summary dismissals of working and non-working journalists in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement today, Press Association, Indian Journalists Union, National Union of Journalists and Working News Cameramen�s Association described the media industry response to the nationwide lockdown as kneejerk reaction.
When the whole of industrial sector was being asked to adopt humane approach and not to stop payments to workforce during lockdown, this downsizing and salary cuts in media industry is most inconsiderate to put it mildly, the unions commented. They said it is not proper for the media houses into business for so many years with expansions and modernisation, to suddenly claim financial helplessness.
It is a fact that though media industry has registered lot of growth during the last few decades the expenditure component of news gathering has not seen corresponding growth, indicating underpayment to journalists in India. Media houses that have been earning more profits thus are completely unjustified in shunning their responsibility towards employees this early into a pandemic-induced lockdown, although they face marketing and revenue problems, the unions said. If decades-old big newspaper houses react this way it is difficult even to imagine the travails of small and medium newspapers.
The national unions urged the media houses to think collectively about various aspects of the crisis and find ways to surmount the difficult phase with minimal hardship to the workforce, including working journalists.
The unions also suggested the media houses to approach the government for any possible succour during this hardship. The Indian media can�t afford to fail the society at this juncture when its services are needed most as the most reliable and responsible source of information, they averred.