Newspaper operations halt amidst Coronavirus panic
According to media reports, newspaper operations and distribution are being shut around India due to fears that print media might be a carrier of the COVID-19 crisis. Entities such as the Brihanmumbai Vruttapatra Vikreta Sangh (BVVS), the newspaper vendors union of Mumbai have called off newspaper distribution until 25th March.
Newspaper distribution is being affected in several parts of the country including Ludhiana, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi-NCR, Goa and Guwahati according to various media reports. Meanwhile publishers are releasing online videos of spraying newspapers with disinfectant and highlighting the distribution process.
Raj Jain, CEO, Bennett and Coleman Co. in a letter to employees said, “Despite all the efforts and awareness, fake news is being circulated, especially with regards to the process of newspaper printing and distribution.”
In times of a crises, newspapers remain the most credible source of information for the public at large. Government is also relying on print for most of its tactical communication for COVID-19. On 23rd March, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting ordered State/UT to ensure that information networks critical to news dissemination remain operational and to facilitate the same.
However, local bodies like Resident Welfare Association, Delhi and Guwahati Newspapers Hawkers Association are reportedly taking matters into their own hands