‘Time for journalists to prove themselves & contribute to the society’

In this series - First Responders - on reporters at the frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic we feature Devendra Bhatnagar, Chief Editor - Gujarat, Divya Bhaskar

e4m by Dipali Banka
Updated: Apr 21, 2020 12:35 PM
First Responders

Braving the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic for fulfilling professional duties have been reporters of various media networks.

They have been at the frontline since the beginning of the crisis, sending on-ground reports from hospitals, markets, even burial grounds.

Today, we launch a series called First Responders where we feature some such reporters who have put up a brave front and set an example.

The first to be featured in this series is Devendra Bhatnagar, Chief Editor - Gujarat, Divya Bhaskar.

What have you been covering specifically on COVID-19 and since when?
I have been in journalism for about 22 years, but am experiencing a new definition of journalism in the current situation. We are working in such risky scenarios that at the end of the day, when we reach home, we are not sure if we will be a positive or a negative case of COVID-19. Our families are living in fear. Every journalist in the country will be going through such times today. But despite that they are going out by themselves to justify their profession and do their duty to the best of their abilities.

What has been your most challenging experience so far?
We reporters are going to areas where lab tests happen, areas which are quarantined and sensitive hotspots that have been sealed. Incidentally, one night I started coughing and it went on for about 10-15 minutes. My family couldn’t sleep and everyone was very scared. Every journalist is experiencing this fear today. On the other hand, this is the best opportunity for any journalist to prove themselves and contribute to society.

Can you share any particular experience or incident that moved you the most?
When someone dies, relatives are not even able to go near the deceased’s body. How ironical is this. When you encounter such a scene, it takes one away from the news gathering process and you start questioning your own survival.

Do you or your family worry about your own safety?
My young kids want to hug me as soon as I reach home, but we have to keep them away. I first take a shower and then meet them.

What kind of support are you receiving from the company on reporting the COVID-19 pandemic?
We are taking care of safety completely. We are sanitizing our offices on a daily basis. Everybody here has masks and gloves. Medical check-ups of employees is being conducted every 5-6 days. Health comes first, and also work. We can’t achieve anything if don’t take care of our health.

Your message at the end of the day.
I just hope I remain negative (for the virus) every day. Man has played and altered with nature, and coronavirus has completely changed human lives now.

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