"Considering the benefits of teleworking, work from home might become a new trend in the media"

Interview with Mohamed Hamdhoon, Assistant Editor , Mihaaru News, Maldives. He is the president of newly revived Maldives Journalists Association (MJA).

Mohamed Hamdhoon. Credits: MJA

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted traditional media workers' way of work. What are the opportunities and challenges of this new teleworking era?

The biggest challenges we have faced is the impossibility of field reporting and the fight against fake news. With so many daily updates, it’s been a very challenging task to verify and double-check all the information.

The opportunities of remote work have included more easily accessible press conferences and events because they’ve been online. Journalism has become more much decentralized allowing journalists from all the regions to cover events. It also allowed media workers to spend more time with family at home, which has been very important in these emotionally difficult times.

In most of the cases, the abrupt transition from physical newsrooms to home newsrooms happened in non-regulated environments. Why is it essential to develop clear and guarantee-based legislations on teleworking?

It’s crucial because we may still have to work from home for the next year or, considering the benefits of teleworking, work from home might become a new trend in the media. To tackle the issues we face now we need to have a clear regulation. For example, some media companies have proposed that staff work from home with a reduced pay. So a policy is much needed to ensure that staff rights as well as industry standards are respected when working from home.

As unions, what elements are crucial in new telework legislation?

Telework is on our agenda, and we will discuss with journalists and media companies about the problems they face when working from home. After gathering this feedback we will develop the union’s recommendations.

What cyber security issues would you identify in working from home? How can it be fixed?

Many journalists in the Maldives have reported on social media their concerns regarding disruptive internet connections. It’s a big issue here in the country that needs to be fixed. Since journalists have several video and audio calls every day, having a weak internet connection disrupts their work. We haven’t heard of any cyber security issue but we believe that secure networks should be provided to journalists.

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