PRESS STATEMENT: Consider actual need to call for physical press conferences

Gerakan Media Merdeka (Geramm) takes note of the current situation which have seen rising numbers of Covid-19 infections.

In a situation where the nation is once again faced with implementation of the Movement Control Order, we also note the sacrifices made by media practitioners who remain on duty to report the news in a timely and accurate manner.

Therefore, Geramm calls for cooperation from all parties concerned to minimise the risk of Covid-19 infections, particularly between news sources and media practitioners, and vice-versa.

To that effort, Geramm urge all parties including government ministers, government agencies, politicians and others to seriously consider whether there is an actual need for a physical press conference, at the very least until the end of MCO 2.0.

This follows recent developments involving Covid-19 positive cases among several ministers, parliamentarians, state-assemblypersons and their entourage, indirectly exposing media practitioners to the risk of becoming close contacts or secondary contacts.

As an alternative, their respective officers could provide the information in the form of media statements, live streams, video and audio recordings, as well as photographs where applicable. However, we stress that the information should not be shared in a news format, as all media organisations have a right to set their own news angle.

Understanding that news reporting is not a one way process, we also call for cooperation from related parties – including ministers – to ensure open communication channels for purposes of clarification or further questions on an issue, avoiding the need for direct interaction in a physical press conference.

To media owners and management, we welcome any measures taken to ensure welfare of media workers, while at the same time striving to produce the best news reports, in line with the principles of press freedom.We are in Solidarity.