"There are many journalists who are working from home with great uncertainty"

Interview with Maria Shirazi, Sub-Editor, The News International, Pakistan

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

In the last 15 years, working from home was initially difficult mainly due to power outages and lack of proper internet access. However, with the passage of time, I got used to working from home as it is much more convenient to work in a safe and comfortable environment. Also because my specialty, which is entertainment journalism, hardly involves field reporting it was easier for me to report from home.

Besides power failures, the only challenge I face is the distraction of dealing with my nine-year-old daughter, who has her classes online. Avoiding waking up early to go to the office reduces your stress and helps in finishing your work on time. The greatest advantage for me is that I can spend more time with my daughter. I have become more proficient in my work, so telework is a win-win for me.  

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? 

I think it is important because there are many journalists who are still working from home with great uncertainty because we don’t know how long it will take until things get back to normal. Developing clear and rights-based legislation on teleworking is needed now to ensure that journalists working in the field or from home get equal rights and their rights are not compromised in any way. 

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

I believe that the elements crucial to telework legislation should be based on a survey where we ask journalists to share the problems they face when working from home. Media workers must be involved in this process.

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

Even though I have never faced this problem, there are many female journalists that face such issues on a regular basis. The only way cyber security issues can be resolved is by providing all journalists secure internet networks so that it doesn’t hinder their work and proficiency.  

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