Imran Zakir works as a reporter for what he terms a tier-2 English daily newspaper in Karachi.
Ever since coronavirus-related measures promoting social distancing were introduced, he has been hearing of more and more workplaces allowing ‘work from home’ but he has not been so lucky. “I have no other option but to go to office,” he complained, adding that, “I attend events regularly and go to the office to file stories.” He gets scared sometimes about contracting the disease but has left it to God since many of his colleagues who are working from home still got infected. Complaining about the disbursement of salary in ‘installments’, he still calls it a blessing in the present times. “Our newspaper keeps our stoves warm,” he asserted.
After healthcare workers and law enforcement personnel, journalists have been termed frontline workers during this pandemic as they continue to risk their lives while bringing news to the public. While the media industry was already reeling from a crippling financial crisis — both natural and man-made —workers now face the danger of contracting the coronavirus as well.
Syed Shoaib, who works in an Urdu daily, revealed that they were directed to work from home when one of their colleagues got infected. With regards to salaries, he shared, “We had not been paid for 10 months but now are getting half salaries so that is nothing less than a blessing.”
This is the case in most news organisations as they blame lack of advertising and government policies for their financial crises. Surprisingly, a regional newspaper is still disbursing complete salaries to its staff while also successfully implementing ‘work from home’ measures. “I have been working from home for the last four months. Our owner said that lives are more important than work,” informed Rahib Gaho, a reporter for a Sindhi daily published from Hyderabad.