With Covid hitting newsrooms, channels implement new protocols

From reduced working hours to sanitising premises, newsrooms are leaving no stone unturned to ensure COVID safety at the workplace

e4m by Ruhail Amin
Updated: Apr 22, 2021 9:24 AM
TV news

Media, at the forefront of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, is putting their own safety at risk in order to keep the public informed. Though frontline media persons demand to get vaccinated to safeguard themselves from the deadly infection, their concern has been put on the back burner as the country copes with the second wave of the pandemic.

Newsrooms have understood the need for a heightened vigil against the second wave of Covid-19. Though it has been a year since newsrooms are following strict protocols, here’s how they are countering the second wave of Covid-19.

Let’s look at Zee Media which is using a mix of protocols including-- work from home, people working in shifts, reduced working hours, regular sanitization of the premises, etc.

“Last year had tested our tenacity with the sudden onslaught of the pandemic. This year we are better prepared. We saw the surging numbers and immediately put procedures in place: Work from home, people working in shifts, shorter duration work hours, sanitizing the premises regularly etc. We have arranged official pick up and drop facilities to ensure people don't have to take public transportation. We have a panel of doctors on call who the employees can reach out to for any clarification. Beyond this, we also take care of the mental health of our people. We have an eminent psychiatrist on board available for on-call consultation”, says Purushottam Vaishnava, CEO & Editor-in-Chief, ZEE Media.

“Our teams are putting in their 100% dedication wherever they are working from. The least we can offer is to ensure they get maximum support from the organization to keep them safe and be their ally should they need help”, he further added.

As Covid-19 cases see a steep rise across the country, ABP Network is once again laser-focused on strengthening occupational safety and health, adjusting work arrangements, and providing access to health care and paid leaves to all our employees, to tackle this new wave effectively.

“We have been strategically managing our newsrooms through a systemic division within production and editorial teams to reduce the risk of contagion. As per this system, two mutually exclusive groups have been formed that work on 12 hour-shifts in the office, on an alternate week basis. Further, we are encouraging certain teams like the Digital team and the corporate teams to work from home by supporting them in myriad ways. Even as we move forward, we will keep evaluating how to best support our teams while efficiently managing our newsrooms and roll out relevant measures to protect the health and safety of every individual during this difficult time”, stated an official spokesperson of ABP Network

At India Ahead several employees have been hit by the second wave and the media house is taking a host of new initiatives to deal with the challenge.

“The second wave is worse than the first one. At India Ahead, we have taken a huge hit with several of our colleagues falling prey to the virus. We are focusing heavily on the dissemination of information via our digital platforms. As a lot of employees go into work from home mode, 'different tools of storytelling' is the need of the hour. Audio and text-based storytelling formats are here to stay”, shares Bhupendra Chaubey, Editor-in-Chief, India Ahead.

Anurradha Prasad, Chairperson and MD of News 24 Broadcast India Ltd says these are difficult times but we have to face it.

“We have to fight it and come out strong and above all help each other and that’s why we at News24 has launched a campaign Saathihaath Badhana”, explains Prasad.

Moving from the mainline channels to regional networks, the story is no different. PTC Network has introduced extended shifts and is providing all meals in-house so that outside risk is minimized.

“For every newsroom, it's a new world. The anchors, who have had Corona, are in studios and those who want to be careful are anchoring from home via technological innovations. Most reporters and cameramen are braving it out in the fields. This is the time when technology is playing a crucial part by making virtual newsrooms, and remote Live, and editing possible. However, no matter what innovations we do, a certain number of people are needed in the newsroom - it's better to call the War-room in place of newsroom”, shares Rabindra Narayan, MD and President, PTC Network.

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