As we mourn Robin Njogu, a senior journalist, who has lost the battle to Covid-19 Monday night, we wish to revive our earlier petition to the government to consider journalists among front-line workers to benefit from the vaccine.
It should be noted that in the efforts to control the spread of the virus journalists have been at the forefront in assisting the government with the identification of potential hotspots as well as carrying out campaigns to turn the tide against the virus. As journalists continue with this important endeavour, it is only fair that the government should make available all the possible facilities and protection to them.
Journalists have suffered in silence and we are calling upon those affected to speak up for immediate action/support before it is too late.
In view of the loss of life and reports of over 20 journalists battling the virus in medical facilities across the country, we believe that considering journalists to be among the first beneficiaries of the first phase of the vaccination drive.
It beats logic to classify journalists as frontline workers only when their services are needed to contribute to the national campaign in informing and educating the public and to abandon them when their colleagues are bring protected.
This gives credence to the fact that journalists are only important when their selfless services are needed at the time of crises but are on their own when it comes to the protection of their rights and welfare.
Last year, when President Uhuru Kenyatta announced guidelines, including lockdown measures, to contain the spread of the pandemic, journalists were classified as essential service providers and frontline workers. To date, this pronouncement has enabled journalists to carry out their mandate diligently and safely in the face of the pandemic threat.
Ideally, it is imprudent and discriminative to expect journalists to play a delicate role in the Covid-19 battle, by exposing themselves to the virus while reporting new developments on the pandemic, including messaging on the fast-changing containment measures to the public, without targeted efforts to secure their own safety.
March 16, 2021