Media workers keep going on Covid-19 battlefield

Media personnel have even coined their own message for the people: ‘You stay at home quietly and don’t be the subject of our news’

By MAZLAN SAMION & MOHAMAD BAKRI DARUS / Pic RAZAK GHAZALI

AT A time when the majority of Malaysians are staying at home and healthcare frontliners are toiling tirelessly to combat Covid-19, media workers are also working long hours to keep the people informed on the latest news and developments.

Like other frontliners, reporters, photographers and videographers are also exposed to the risk of infection as they are out in the field every day, conducting interviews and covering press conferences and essential happenings to convey authentic news to the people, as well as counter the deluge of fake news circulating on social media.

The media personnel have even coined their own message for the people: “You stay at home quietly and don’t be the subject of our news.”

Broadcasting is among the critical sectors allowed to operate during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period from March 18, which means that reporters, editors, sub-editors, photographers and videographers can continue working as usual.

Fearful

For journalists, it is part of their job to meet people when on an assignment. And at a time like this, it is hard to tell whether the person they are talking to is a Covid-19 virus carrier, and it is for this reason that they too are taking preventive measures like wearing a mask, washing their hands frequently and practising social distancing.

Bernama TV broadcast journalist Mohd Noor Iqram Rosli, 29, admitted that he is fearful of the Covid-19 threat when he is out in the field for coverage.

“I don’t know from which direction the virus will attack me as the enemy is invisible,” he said, adding that he also has to do stand-ups and live telecasts when covering an event or happening.

Mohd Noor Iqram makes it a point to take a shower and change his clothes after his outdoor assignments.

“As media practitioners, we have to be on the frontline as well. It’s not easy for us, but we’ve our work to do,” he said, hoping that Malaysians would comply strictly with the MCO, so that the nation can meet its objective of breaking the chain of Covid-19 infection.

Risky Career

Norsyafawati (centre), who is attached to the Putrajaya bureau, says she is aware of the risks journalists have to face, but remains committed to her work (Pic: Bernama)

Bernama reporter Norsyafawati Ab Wahab, 32, who is attached to the Putrajaya bureau, said she is aware of the risks journalists have to face, but remains committed to her work.

“Currently, I’m busy covering Covid-19-related events, so I always observe the necessary safety precautions. Among the people I meet there may be individuals who have been in contact with a virus carrier or they

themselves may be having symptoms, so I’ve to be careful,” said Norsyafawati, who usually covers the daily Covid-19 press briefing by Health DG Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah in Putrajaya.

Bernama photographer Nur Ain Shafinaz Talib, 33, said she sometimes finds it hard to practise social distancing as she has to come close to her subject to take the best shot.

“When I use a wide-angle lens, I have no choice but to stand close to the subject for a clearer photo. But I would take the photo quickly and move away,” she said.

Nur Ain Shafinaz, who also uses the telephoto lens to enable her to take photos from a distance, added that after each assignment, she would disinfect her camera equipment.

PPE Challenge

Reporters, photographers and videographers are also exposed to the risk of infection as they are out in the field every day (Pic: Bernama)

Sharing his experience, Bernama photographer Mohammad Izzuddin Radzak, 30, said there were occasions when he had to cover the proceedings at the Covid-19 monitoring centre in Nilai, Negri Sembilan, where he was required to don personal protective equipment (PPE) normally worn by the Ministry of Health frontliners.

“I was given a briefing first and then asked to wash my hands before I was taught how to use the PPE gear.

“Donning the PPE is not an easy task as there is a certain way of putting it on…the main objective of the PPE is to prevent the wearer from being exposed to the virus,” he said.

He said the PPE limited his movements and he was told that rough or clumsy movements can cause a tear that may expose the wearer to infection.

“I found it a challenge to wear the PPE as it was so hot. I didn’t realise I had been sweating profusely until I opened my outer suit and found my hospital clothes drenched in sweat,” he said, adding that he also felt thirsty and dehydrated. — Bernama

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