Tuesday, August 11

Reporters, photographers on Covid-19 frontlines


Reporters undergoing a health check when they arrived at Wisma Bapa Malaysia for a press conference. Photo by Muhammad Rais Sanusi

KUCHING: It never crossed Galileo Petingi’s mind when he joined The Borneo Post as a cub reporter in March last year that he would have to endanger himself and his loved ones to report about a virus that is wreaking havoc around the world.

“I was disappointed,” the 28-year-old admitted when asked how he felt when the government instructed people to stay at home because of the Covid-19 outbreak but he had to go out on assignments.

However, Galileo, who joined the newspaper because of his love for writing, said he took it in his stride and he had no regrets as it was all part of his job.

“My work now is important because the right kind of information needs to be disseminated to the public, and keep them updated on the current situation of the outbreak,” he said.

“All I can do is take the necessary precautions. If need be, I wear my face mask when I am out and practice social distancing when interviewing people. After I finish my task, I return home and take a shower to disinfect myself,”

He said his family understood the nature of his job and has been supportive of him, although they do remind him to take precautions.

Like Galileo, there are many journalists and press photographers in Sarawak who also put themselves at risk daily to ensure that the public are aware of the latest announcements and updates on the outbreak which has led to the Movement Control Order (MCO).

Galileo’s colleague, Nigel Edgar, said he has been hounded by worries since the MCO started last Wednesday.

“It is worrying most of the time because you never know what kind of people you will encounter while out working on the frontlines.

“Then by the end of the day you are posed with another kind of worry – what kind of bugs you may have caught and brought home to your family,” he said.

However, he said he was not worried that the MCO has been extended until April 14th this year because this meant that there will be more time for the pandemic to subside.

Zulazhar Sheblee, 49, who is a photographer with The Star, said this is not the first time he has covered a crisis, having years of experience in the industry.

“I usually do my homework first to study about crisis and in this situation, Covid-19, I guess photographers are high risk people. We have to be at the scene when it’s crowded, and there are many uncertainties to get good pictures and we must be creative,” he said.

Zulazhar, who is married and has three children, said before he goes to work each day, he ensures that his family has sufficient food at home.

“I make sure that my family has enough to eat and make sure that they follow MCO. For the safety of my family, every time I come home, I take a shower outside the house before I enter,” he said.

For Farizan Jalal, 40, a cameraman with TV3, said he has been in the media industry for the last 22 years, and his family was worried about Covid-19.

“But, as a responsible media personnel, that is the risk I have to take. Whenever I go out to work, I always remember my responsibility as a cameraman,” he said.