During this pandemic, the life of human is critical, and before this the biodiversity was running towards the destruction. Mass media is representing both the situation at this moment. Because of the authoritarian government, the mass media was in terrible threat to freedom already. And now because of this global catastrophe, mass media which is the 4th pillar of a nation is completely ruined. News industry expert Penelope Abernathy from The University of North Carolina said -
“Newspaper is in the threat of death”
In an interview with The EU observer, Tim Gibson the top advisor of “The Committee to Protect Journalists” said -
“The duty of journalism is already in a great threat. And, now because of this global crisis it has become difficult and labored for a journalist to investigate the natural and the actual reason behind the news"
The president of “The European Union Commission” Ursula Von Der Leyen thinks, journalists should work with full freedom to represent the actual news against the rumors regarding Coronavirus in today’s time.
People are researching how Corona will change the whole world including Economy, Politics, Human’s livelihood, Religion etc. We don’t need to look at any analysis to understand how terrible situation is waiting for us. Now, let’s look at the mass media only. Mass media has survived after struggling with several crises, misfortune, global catastrophes during wars, epidemics all these years.
Mass media has almost lost the main two sources of income - Event and Advertising. During this unstable period, the event management business has collapsed and even news reporter’s health is at risk whilst covering the news. On the other hand, the amount of advertising is decreasing day by day. There are several reasons along with Coronavirus behind the existence crisis of newspaper. Like the health risk of the reporters, the rumors of spreading Coronavirus through newspapers, the willingness to distribute newspapers.
In this stunned world, the news industry is not the only one to go through difficult challenges. On 3rd April, The Wall Street Journal reported that, during this pandemic the viewers of television channels are increasingly highly but the amount of advertising is decreasing surprisingly.
Big companies and brands are not willing to give advertisements along with the news of Coronavirus. They are hesitating to mingle their brands with this sensitive issue. Because of lockdown, office, schools, colleges and many businesses companies are shut as well as their advertisements. Because of transportation problems, product marketing is also of nowadays. As everything is uncertain now, many advertisers have cancelled their budget. That’s why; mass media is in financial crisis.
In such circumstances, thousands of newspapers are closing their service. Some companies are reducing staff, decreasing the number of editions, lessening the culver of the newspaper to survive through this epidemic. Only in Britain about 20 newspapers have gone out of business including Manchester Time, Global Remark, Focus The News and etc. Mass media personality of Britain Beni Stil said - decreasing amount of advertising and problems in marketing are the main reasons behind this.
Gannett the proprietor of about hundred newspapers including The USA Today said, they are selling the real estate and suspending pay dividends in order to lessen the debts. About 50 percent of their advertisements are gone from their news portals.
Australian Media Group News Corporation owner Rupert Murdoch said, about 60+ newspapers have gone out of business because of this gradual decline situation of Coronavirus. Some of them, like The New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland are thinking of going online. Because of health risks and shortage of income, many television shows are going off the air. They have to redesign their shows schedule because of shortage of contents.
To survive this pandemic local newspaper organizations are asking for financial assistance from their perspective government. America’s biggest media trade group release and broadcaster has said they will help mass media financially in this pandemic. Associations like News Media Alliance, National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), and National Newspaper Association (NNA) have applied for special help on 9th April in the upcoming Congress bill. Not only The USA but every other country is doing the same now.
To help news portals during this period, Australian government has announced incentive package of 91 million dollars. 41 million dollars will be freed from the tax, and 50 million dollars will be given as financial aid under “Regional Journalism Program”. The government of Denmark has announced the allocation of 27 million dollars for mass media. Their minister of Cultural department Joy Mogensen has said -
“To keep a country’s freedom alive, its mass media must be kept alive as it’s the most inseparable companion of a country’s freedom”
Google has launched a global Journalism Emergency Relief Fund through the Google News Initiative to support small and medium sized news organizations. 50 local news organizations of The United States and Canada will get this fund at first step.
Even in Bangladesh, many newspapers are going out of business. Local newspapers of Sylhet, Rajshahi, Joshor, Chadpur have stopped printing already. Some national newspapers have also declared closure. To help newspaper associations alive many newspaper councils, Editors Gild have claimed for help from the government. Even they have claimed for insurance for reporters who have been infected with corona while reporting Coronavirus cases.
Specialists fear that, in this inactive phase of newspaper social media will take the place, which will be worse than this pandemic. The United States former president Jefferson has said, if you ask me to choose from government without newspaper and newspaper without government, I will go for newspaper without government undoubtedly, because for a strong nation the need of a potential mass media is inevitable.