ZAGREB, March 18, 2020 – The Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND) and Journalists’ Union (SNH) on Wednesday released a joint press release saying that they regret that the government’s measures to ease the consequences of the crisis in the wake of the coronarivus pandemic do not include reporters and the media.
HND and SNH recalled that after the economic crisis in 2008 the number of reporters in Croatia was halved and that they believed that being aware of that, the government will propose measures to protect reporters, who in the current difficult times are exposed to danger in order to serve the public and provide it with important information.
”We call on the Ministry of Culture to adopt measures for reporters and the media, primarily to introduce safeguards for financial breaks or payment deferment for publishers to make sure that they do not lay off full-time media employees or cancel contracts with external contractors, reduce wages for workers or restrict their other labour rights,” the journalists said in the press release.
We do not see any such safeguards in the measures designed for reporters nor do the government’s measures include our proposals for additional tax reliefs for freelance reporters or paid sick leave for part-time reporters if they contract COVID-19, the journalists say.
The associations underscore that they have requested that the process of allocation of grants secured through the European Social Fund and a call for applications for the remaining funding, in the amount of HRK 15 million, be accelerated.
The announcement that publishers who are beneficiaries of the Fund for Media Pluralism would receive payments is nothing new as that obligation had been agreed a long time ago and concerns regular payments to those who were granted the funding back in 2018, HND and SNH said.
“We consider that the government’s measures have to include the media sector in order to save jobs for those people who in this crisis situation are having one of the most important roles in society,” HND and SNH underlined.
Quality reporting is not possible without the presence of reporters in places where crises occur, which means that they have a greater risk of being exposed to the virus. That is why we call on the government to secure for all reporters, photo-reporters and technicians in the field protective equipment and speedy testing for the virus.
If a general quarantine is declared, we ask that we be given permits for free movement for all reporters who are out in the field and have a valid press pass, HND and SNH concluded.
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