Timor-Leste’s Journalists Face a New Threat Amid the CorVid-19 Pandemic

Oekusipost.com Dili - The situation of journalists in Timor-Leste is not only threatened by the spread of the pandemic novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 (CorVid-19), but also threatened by print media owners by cutting their salaries, even though journalists' salaries are already too small at around $ 150 per month.

Timor-Leste has only recorded one positive case of CorVid-19, but panic has spread throughout the territory to force the President of the Republic, Francisco Guterres Lu Olo to declare a national emergency on Friday 27 March 2020. And on the following day the government also immediately issued a decision on the implementation process in the field. And since Monday, April 1, all activities in the city of Dili have started to reduce, and previously also the civil servants have been asked not to come to work at the office, all schools are closed and Easter mass activities for this year were closed. 

According to The Oe-Kusi Post's observations, there are a number of print media owners who have provided protective facilities to journalists such as masks and hand sanitizers, but in the last few days symptoms have appeared to threaten journalists. 

"We have been informed that the office will cut our salaries on the grounds that media revenues are declining," a reporter told Oe-Kusi at the Press Council office, Dili, Thursday 2 April 2020. 

The reporter added that two correspondents in the municipality had also been asked to stop because there was no transportation to send the paper. 

"Yesterday the director asked us whether we agreed with the salary deduction decision, we were all just mute". 

A reporter from one of the major newspapers stated, his office also has a plan to cut off journalists' salaries by 50% for the same reason. Newspaper income has declined despite the national emergency just a week ago. 

Meanwhile, the media owner's representative in the press council as well as the owner of the Timor Post daily newspaper, José Ximenes, said that the condition of the media began to deteriorate since the political crisis that occurred in 2017. 

The former Timor Post director also accused the political crisis situation in the country which caused the income of the media to decline. 

"For example, there are several media that plan to cut journalists' salaries. The management who knows more detailed about this, but according to my general observations to the current situation, there is no transportation to distribute the paper to our client in municipality. So what happened was only in Dili,"he explained. 

"This situation is a threat to the media, and since 2018 also some media have reduced pages, and finally also the Timor Post has reduced two pages since 2 April 2020". 

Meanwhile, the journalists representative, Francisco Simões Belo, asked media owners to provide protective facilities to journalists covering Coronavirus pandemic. 

"I suggest to media owners to protect journalists when covering coverage of the CorVid-19 pandemic." 

He also asked the media to provide equipment related to the prevention of pandemic coronavirus. 

“Ask the media owners to be well considered before cutting the salaries of journalists, especially journalists who do their work for 24 hours in this emergency situation, because their lives are at great risk”. 

Raimundos Oki
Author: Raimundos OkiWebsite: https://www.oekusipost.comEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Xefe Redasaun & Editor

Online Counter