DURBAN – There was a time when some people in society suggested that the journalism profession was over. But with so much misinformation and fake news about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) doing the rounds on social media, the job of journalists, communications officers has never been more important.
As the virus continues to create uncertainty and even chaos around the world, the growing concern has now been focused on the well-being of those on the front-line of the fight against the disease. True, doctors and nurses are the last line of defense as we continue to wage a war against this pandemic, but the lesser known truth is journalists and communication officers are the first line of defense. And it is during times like these, when this role we play can sometimes be forgotten or overlooked.
Since the outbreak of the virus in December last year, journalists and communications officers have been on the forefront updating, educating and allaying fears of the virus to the public to prevent the last line of defense from sitting with an even bigger problem than the pandemic itself – people’s reactions and subsequent behaviors. Media houses and various government departments have gone into overdrive to come up with approaches to raise awareness of this pandemic and continue to keep the public informed as information changes.
As we observe the Easter holidays, I salute the millions of men and women with no cape or elite qualifications; standing on the front-lines with their cameras, pen and paper/laptops to serve and put their lives on the line in the name of informing, empowering and inspiring our citizenry during these uncertain times.
By no means am I comparing roles and who’s more important than the next because truth is everyone has a role to play in ensuring that we defeat the virus. I value and appreciate the significant efforts from millions of health front-line professionals, without whom we would be sitting with catastrophic numbers. I want to simply also bring into the forefront those supporting their efforts with communication strategies, advice and reach. Not forgetting to honor the security guards, the cleaners, the cashiers, the car guards and all the heroes and heroines who are not always praised but are definitely seen when the chips are down. I say to you history will remember you.
To my fellow journalists and communications officers, let’s continue to work collaboratively and decisively. Though we are tested daily, the work we put in now will stand the test of time….ALUTA CONTINUA!!