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Pandemic Reporting & Mental Health in South Asia Media: How Journalists Can Collaborate...

Pandemic Reporting & Mental Health in South Asia Media: How Journalists Can Collaborate Across Borders

Thirty-five journalists from Pakistan and India who are participating in an East-West Center cross-border reporting program met virtually on April 30 to discuss their challenges in reporting the pandemic.

They were asked this question: What can journalists across South Asia do to help each other in reporting on the pandemic and supporting reporters’ mental health?

Here are their comments:

  • Journalist associations in South Asia should come together and put pressure on governments to vaccinate media people like other frontline workers. A separate platform can be created for mental health counselling for journalists.

  • Do pieces encouraging cross-border cooperation in reporting that sympathizes with covid crises in the region and across the border. Discourage commentary that brings in political conflicts in this time when unity is most needed.

  • Reporters outside an infected country could look at local media coverage in that same country and then write stories that are hard-hitting criticism of the authorities and government there.

  • Work collaboratively, share leads, stories and ideas. Be each other's ears in sharing personal experiences, trauma etc. Help “diss” misinformation and include diverse voices in stories.

  • On journalists’ mental health: hold virtual meetings with each other; adopt reporters or newsrooms and link them to others who have recovered from the situation.

  • Collaborate with each other and amplify shared experiences so that their respective countries can learn from each other’s mistakes.

  • Work collaboratively on the reaction to death. Many people across Pakistan show sympathy with Indians. We can file a story on both sides.

  • We should benefit from each other's experiences and journalistic data. Several Pakistani journalists, including me, were covid positive. What did we do to get rid of the stress, what did we feel while being corona positive?

  • Work collaboratively on debunking myths about the vaccine.

  • Share personal experiences and guide others on do’s and don’ts based on those experiences.

  • Share facts, data, experts’ contacts for reporting and counselling each other in case of distress in families.

  • An increasing number of journalists have been targeted for the last decade and there is increased surveillance in Pakistan. We can share valuable information by finding partner journalists. We should be generous in sharing information with our friends across the border.

  • We must find ways to get monetary rewards for journalists’ work by publishing in reputable organizations in each other’s countries. As far as Pakistan is concerned, journalists are pushed against the wall and therefore hardly find any motivation.

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