“Are we silent carriers?”

Most of the people are already aware of what is happening of this crazy Covid-19 pandemic via local and international media.

Health organizations have also announced that the virus can be transmitted to people in various ways. So far, no drugs have been found to cure the disease. Preventive measures are still being taken to prevent the spread of the disease.

You can be considered as an infectious agent when this Covid-19 virus is transmitted through the air or through contact with your respiratory tract. Corona virus is invisible to human eyes and also it is impossible to know who is infected.

Anyone can be considered as a suspected person. Political leader, Religious leaders, Public figures, Experts, Journalists, the poor, the rich people and any bad or good person can be considered as infected with the virus. Therefore, face masks should be used. Wash hands often and make sure for social distancing. Health organizations have also issued guidelines on dietary supplements and exercise too.

In addition, everyone is encouraged to stay home and work from home at this time. However, some works can be done from home, some works can’t be done from home. This includes journalists, specially the photojournalists and the video journalists. They need to go to the ground to record and conduct the interviews. They are likely to be infected with the covid-19 virus at any time. They may also be infectious source of the virus too. As most of the people are only interested in information about Covide-19, most of the reporters are only going in the vicinity of the virus and reporting on the virus related news.

Over the past few days, I have seen a television news story from Myanmar.
In the video news, a woman living in Yangon, the business capital of Myanmar, went to wedding reception in another region, a coastal town in Southern Myanmar called Myeik. She flew from Yangon to Myeik and stayed at a hotel to attend the wedding. After the wedding, she returned to Yangon where she lived. The next day of she returned home, she suffered illness and her test result showed covid-19 positive.

So the government has locked down her home and surroundings for the control of disease, and the government has traced down her travel history during the recent days. Then, the government found out that she went to wedding event in Myeik two days ago. So, all of the contacted people has been watched under home quarantine.

This incident was reported by one of the television news station in Myanmar. In the news, the video journalists interviewed the officials from the administration department, health officials and the people from the hotel where the patient stayed.

What I noticed in the video reports was a Column Mic used by the journalist.
The column Mic was attached near the neck of all the interviewees. Only the source of the interviewee is changed, the column mic used by the reporter is remain same.

After watching this video news, I was worried for both reporter and news sources. Anyone can get infected from this one and only column mic. The news organizations should set the production rules for journalists covering Covid-19 related news. Production rules need to be strictly followed.

The news organizations has the responsibility not only to get news but also to protect its journalists from infection. Also, journalists should take responsibility not to spread the virus to sources because of you. It is equally responsible for both journalists and news organizations not to spread the virus.

I agree that it’s the responsibility of journalists to fulfill the right to information of the people. However, we cannot focus solely on providing information. You also have the responsibility to ensure that your news sources are not being harmed because of you.

That’s why the SPJ’s Code of Ethics says “Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness.”

— Kyaw Soe —

A journalist based in Myanmar.

Student of Diploma in Visual Journalism — The Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University