The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us how interconnected we all are and how much we are a part of this planet.
The virus has no concept of countries, borders, nationalities or governments. So the pandemic brings home the message that there is only one planet, and there is only one ‘we’.
Indeed, the past year has been a learning moment for us all, including those of us working in the media.
With the plethora of misinformation, fake news and conspiracy theories that thrive on social media, a professional journalist has the added responsibility of ensuring that they clear up confusion, check facts, debunk hoaxes, enlighten and educate the public, as well as make sure governments implement sound and accountable policies. This is by no means an easy job.
Even as the pandemic brings out the best in us in empathy, goodwill and charitable acts, the virus also brings out the worst in us, highlighting our economic, social and racial inequalities, and propensity to put forward our own interests first.
While the virus remains single-minded in its proliferation, we continue to bicker and argue about the best way of dealing with it.
Face masks, social distancing, quarantines, lockdowns, vaccines — these become points of contention, sources of conflict.
The journalist makes news from these conflicts. We thrive on highlighting strife and feed on the negatives. We delight in stirring troubles and putting gasoline on the fire.
Bad news is what sells and draws eyeballs and page views. But putting an end to the pandemic requires a collaborative mindset, cooperative action and a global policy.
What is good for one country has to be beneficial for the other. There is no point in being vaccinated if our neighbour is not.
Investing in the health and welfare of our neighbour is to invest in our own. This is where journalists can make a difference.
We can create an environment of reporting that is collaborative and mutually beneficial, both at home and in the region. A forum where our contribution is based on shared objectives — so the work we do can help solve our common problems.