Hawkers not distributing newspapers despite no ban

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 3/26/2020 12:11:51 AM

NEW DELHI, Mar 25: Hawkers in many cities including Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata have refused to pick up newspapers for distribution in the wake of rumours and misinformation on social media regarding the spread of Coronavirus despite the I&B Ministry writing to the states to ensure media's critical infrastructure like printing presses.
The ministry asserted importance of newspapers in disseminating information on COVID-19 and countering fake news in the time of the pandemic, but the newspaper vendors found the police preventing them distribution of newspapers and in many cases the societies banning their entry.
In Kolkata, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday fumed at rumours affecting distribution of newspapers, underscoring that the media was exempt from the lockdown. "I will tell them, police has also been told in no uncertain terms that the media stands exempted from the restrictions.
Even as many newspaper companies switched over to web editions in view of the vendors throwing the newspapers on roads instead of distributing them, Mamata wrote to the Centre to clarify instead of letting people depend on TV channels that are not always reliable. She said the TV channels suit the Modi-government since they report only what it wants, wondering whether the opposition voice will be gagged if newspapers are not there.
Meanwhile, the International News Media Association said, citing health agencies and medical experts, that there is no record or any evidence for the coronavirus being transmitted through print newspapers, magazines, letters or packages.
"Scientific research on virus transmission to inanimate surfaces suggests porous surfaces carry the lowest potency for the shortest period of time," INMA chief executive officer Perl Wilkinson said.
He added: "Newspapers are even more sterile because of the ink and the printing process they go through. There has never been a reported incident of coronavirus being transmitted via newsprint."



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