‘Solution based Journalism’ to tackle COVID-19

On the occasion Of World Press Freedom Day, 2020

Bishaldeep Kakati and Himakshi Thakuriya

The pandemic COVID-19 since its inception has on one hand made the mass at large to remain isolated at their respective places and on the other hand has made certain professionals to work out of their skins. Individuals associated with health department, police department, administrative department etc have all tried their level best to ensure that the denizens remain safe without being infected by the dangerous virus by doing their respective duties. However, in addition to the health professionals or the police and the administrative forces, people belonging to another profession known as ‘journalists’ have also played their distinctive role in dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Media as we all know, since time immemorial has always been tagged as the fourth pillar of Indian democracy and that is mainly because it has been serving the population by providing all the information from every nook and corner of the world. In fact, amidst the pandemic as well, the journalists have not backed out from doing their duties regularly, in spite of knowing how dangerous the situation could be especially when they move out to cover news items or press conferences relating to COVID-19. And that is the reason the crowd has bestowed heaps of praise upon the journalists for their incessant hard work and dedication in providing information at the right time to the public. However, in the current situation, it is important for the journalists to adapt to ‘solution based journalism’ in order to put their own impact in the process of containing COVID-19.

The journalists no doubt have been doing everything necessary to tackle the current dangerous situation by putting numerous relevant stories, unremitting headlines, regular updates across the past many weeks relating to the virus and the life threatening disease that it has been causing. But at this crucial juncture if the journalists can opt for ‘solution based journalism’, then they would surely be able to work hand in hand with the government and thus in the process play a vital role in not only curbing the escalating rate of the spread of the disease but also save the lives of many.

The matter of the fact is that ‘solution based journalism’ amidst this pandemic would basically have four aspects related to it- moving the story, simplification of the story, authenticity of the story and non-politicization of the story. Speaking of the first aspect i.e. ‘moving of the story’, it basically means keeping in pace with up to date information with each passing minute or hour regarding the virus and the pandemic situation. The palpable fact is that since the genesis of the virus, various news and information regarding the same have evolved out and the surprising thing is that a piece of information that came out half an hour ago might be an outdated information post the half an hour period. Hence, it remains really crucial for the journalists to remain updated as much as possible before publishing a story regarding the virus or its related issues as because majority of the population now depends on newspapers or news channels to gather more knowledge about the virus. Although this aspect looks tough and challenging but an extra effort on part of the journalists regarding the same can indeed help the population immensely.

However, it is the second aspect of ‘solution based journalism’ that might be really arduous for the journalists to maintain regularly or keep pace with it daily. The conspicuous fact is that the disease COVID-19, its symptoms, causative agent or the possible cure of it are all scientific affairs and that is the reason it might not be easy for the burgess to grasp everything that the doctors or scientists come up with in one go. Hence, in this regard, the journalists if possible should take the extra burden to carry out extensive interviews with doctors, scientists or health care professionals to understand the scientific information in a simpler way and then publish stories in such a manner, that any person with the basic knowledge can understand those without much of difficulty.  In this regard, we even can’t deny the fact that converting a science story into a simpler story with the necessary information might create a lot of pressure upon the journalists, but for the time being if they can pour in some extra effort for this purpose, then in the process, they would not only help the people know various do’s and don’ts that they need to follow while tackling the disease, but also the journalists would receive many terms of approbation from the crowd for their noble work.

The remaining two aspects of the ‘solution based journalism’ are simply related to the concept of ethical journalism. The journalists should be careful while putting or publishing any piece of item regarding this pandemic since a rumour or a misinformation might cause a great deal of panic amongst the crowd. And the last aspect of this entire concept of ‘solution based journalism’ is that some of the media houses or the journalists at least for this pandemic situation should keep aside their left or right wing alignment and mustn’t be biased while publishing any news for the greater benefit of the crowd at large. In short, some of the media houses or the journalists should completely avoid politicizing the entire scenario. So, if these four aspects of ‘solution based journalism’ are kept intact, then definitely the journalists or the media houses can play a pivotal role in helping the government and the people to win the battle against COVID 19 in the longer run. But ‘solution based journalism’ must be followed by the journalists only after putting proper attention to their own safety or health issues. Hence the journalists too should be extra careful while reporting or covering press conferences, since currently they are one of the significant forces along with others to tackle COVID-19.

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May 5, 2020

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