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aw Fp The importance of bearing witness to the ravages of COVID-19 - The Times Hub

The importance of bearing witness to the ravages of COVID-19

The importance of bearing witness to the ravages of COVID-19

In March 2020, the whole planet understood the magnitude of the developing health crisis by seeing the dramatic images that came to us from Italy. Photos and videos showed patients crammed into hospitals, lying on their stomachs or intubated, as well as distraught doctors, who spoke of their distress on camera.

These images have made citizens more aware of the gravity of the situation than any WHO press release on COVID-19. They also encouraged them to accept the confinement imposed by governments.

Unacceptable restriction

However, in Quebec, such images are extremely rare, because the government and public health authorities close the doors of health establishments to the media. A restriction like we see very little elsewhere in the world.

With a few exceptions, journalists and photographers are indeed refused their requests when they ask for authorization to enter hospitals and CHSLDs, in order to bear witness to the reality of patients and nursing staff.

This refusal by the CIUSSS and the Ministry of Health is all the more surprising given that hospital management often agrees to welcome the media. The nursing staff are also in favor of opening the doors of their workplaces.

They understand that the absence of images allows some to minimize the severity of the virus, to compare its symptoms to those of a “simple flu”, or even, to justify lapses in health instructions.

Hence the importance of collecting the testimonies of doctors, nurses and attendants. Hence the importance also of hearing and seeing the patients who accept it, in order to show the harsh reality that is lived behind doors which are currently closed.

Health care workers remain, after all, the primary witnesses to what goes on inside institutions. It is therefore essential that they can tell what is happening there. Not to mention that hundreds of Quebecers have loved ones currently hospitalized or awaiting surgery.

Conscientious media

Of course, the media are aware of the risks associated with COVID-19. This is why they respect the health rules when they are on the ground since the start of this pandemic, and would do it just as conscientiously in a hospital context.

We, who represent the mainstream media in Quebec, therefore ask the government of Quebec and the public health authorities, in the name of the public’s right to information, to open to journalists the doors of establishments where a real war is waging concerns us all.

***

Sebastien menard
Editor-in-chief
The Journal of Quebec

Dany Doucet
Editor-in-chief
The Journal of Montreal

George kalogerakis
Editor-in-chief
QMI Agency

Benoit Dussault
Main director
24 hours

Martin Picard
Vice President & Chief Content Officer
TVA Group Inc.

Xavier Brassard-Bédard
Editor-in-chief
VAT News LCN

Jean-Nicolas Gagne
General manager
QUB radio

Helen evans
Editor in Chief
CBC Quebec

Melanie Porco
Supervisor – News Production
CityNews Montreal (Citytv)

Chris Bury
Director of Programming and Information
CJAD 800

Julie-Christine Gagnon
News director 98.5, talk stations
Cogeco News and Radio Circulation

Jed kahane
Chief Information Officer
CTV News

Karen macdonald
Chief Information Officer
Global News

Francois Cardinal
Assistant editor
Press

Genevieve Rossier
Editor and Managing Director
The Canadian Press, French Service

Brian Myles
Director
The duty

Stephane Lavallee
General manager
Information co-ops

Lucinda Chodan
Editor in Chief
Montreal Gazette

Luce Julien
Chief Information Officer, French Services
Radio-Canada

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