Namibia: Editors Welcome Reclassification of Media As Essential

27 March 2020

Chairperson of the Editors' Forum of Namibia (EFN) Frank Steffen has welcomed the media being classified as an essential service by health advisor in the presidency Dr Bernard Haufiku - during the 21-day lockdown starting midnight today. Previously media was not regarded as an essential service.

"We welcome it and can only fight this thing (coronavirus) when people are educated and know what is going on. This is the best news ever. The editors and journalists' responsibility is to make sure they don't abuse the situation because it is not about finding blame with other people and pointing fingers," said Steffen, adding that the media is not just there to disseminate news but should be part of the planning because too many people are spreading different stories on the virus.

Haufiku met with editors and journalists yesterday morning where it was discussed whether the media was an essential service or not and he emphasised the importance of communication in times of crisis when information should be shared on a daily basis.

Steffen thanked Haufiku for the recognition and stating that the media is a partner in fighting the virus. "We as media partners speak on behalf of the most. It has not been a blame game but informative and that is why we need to support you," he said.

At a press conference earlier this week the government announced strict measures to contain the further spread of Covid-19, hence imposing a lockdown.

Workers offering essential services would be allowed to operate, however the government encouraged general civil servants as well as those in state-owned enterprises and the private sector to operate from home during the lockdown. The general public are also urged to remain indoors and avoid huge public gatherings at places such as bars, shebeens, nightclubs and markets.

"Come on board and even on a coordination level not just receive the message but we want your input because when you are broadcasting you know what it means. You can suggest to us how to close the gaps and how to spread the message. That is why we need you on board, you are professionals and trained people in communication," Haufiku said.

Haufiku displayed a flow sheet and said based on his experience with hepatitis E - that is still a struggle.

"We (need to) strengthen our communication, collaboration and coordination," he said

"We need you (media) to work and help us spread the message in a standardised way, concise and in one voice and try to cut out the mess," stressed the presidential health advisor.

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