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Coronavirus: JPIMedia to close receptions as NCTJ asks students to defer exams

coronavirusRegional publisher JPIMedia is to close all its reception desks while the NCTJ has advised some students to defer their exams as the industry responds to the coronavirus outbreak.

With the UK recording its first death from COVID-19 yesterday, big employers and industry bodies have announced measures to contain the potential spread of the virus among staff.

In an internal note seen by HTFP, JPIMedia has announced it is closing all its remaining reception desks with immediate effect, with the exceptions of those it shares with other companies in shared buildings.

The publisher has also told staff that any employees who visit a ‘high risk’ country on holiday will have to self-isolate for 14 days on their return before being allowed back into the office.

Meanwhile the National Council for the Training of Journalists has asked students and working journalists with forthcoming exams to arrange a deferral if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or have visited a category one country/area up to 14 days of prior to the exam.

And the Society of Editors has hit out at social media sites for peddling fake news and conspiracy theories about the virus, urging the government to ensure that mainstream media outlets receive accurate, timely information about the outbreak.

In the note to employees, sent yesterday, JPIMedia said the measures were being imposed “to minimise the risk to our business but primarily to individuals.”

The restrictions will include a ban on staff visiting JPIMedia offices other than the ones where they are based, and requiring any member of staff suffering the symptoms of coronavirus to self-isloate for 14 days.

In similar advice aimed at students due to sit exams, the NCTJ said: “If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or have visited a category 1 country/area within 14 days of the exam, event or meeting, we respectfully ask you to not travel and remain home.

“Candidates sitting exams with the NCTJ who are unable to travel for the reasons stated should contact the NCTJ to arrange a deferral.”

“We will continue to work closely with our accredited course providers, exam centres and events and training venues and will provide further guidance on alternative arrangements should they be required. In the meantime, the NCTJ will operate as usual.”

Areas currently considered high risk or ‘category one’ by the government include Iran, China’s Wuhan city and Hubei Province, any Italian town under containment measures and Daegu or Cheongdo, in South Korea.

Society of Editors director Ian Murray urged the public to avoid using social media platforms to obtain accurate information about the outbreak.

His comments came after The Guardian reported yesterday that a post on Twitter wrongly claiming that antibacterial hand sanitiser is useless against the virus racked up a quarter of a million likes and almost 100,000 retweets before it was deleted.

A search by the SoE has also found, amongst others, conspiracy theories linking the new coronavirus to the roll-out of 5G in China on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube alongside posts purporting to offer cures.

The Society’s intervention follows its recent launch of a Campaign for Real News which intends to combat fake news through supporting both the mainstream media and emerging new media that recognise high standards of editorial excellence.

Said Ian: “Social media is a breeding ground for fake news when people are scared and platforms such as Twitter and Facebook should not be viewed by the public as accurate or factually correct sources of news on the new coronavirus.

“Unlike the mainstream media, social media can provide a platform by which inaccurate and harmful content can be published and shared before its accuracy has been verified.

“While the Society recognises that these companies are making efforts to tackle misinformation on their sites, more needs to be done to ensure that conspiracy theories do not run rampant and that, instead, users continue to be signposted to trusted and reputable sources of news and information such as that published by the mainstream media.”

He also called on health officials and ministers to provide timely information to journalists to ensure that they could continue to keep the public accurately informed on the virus.

Added Ian: “The UK media recognises that, as with all matters of public interest, it has a responsibility to provide the public with timely and factually correct, accurate information. The new coronavirus is no exception to this.

“Government ministers and health officials have a duty to continue to provide the media with information which it will continue to report responsibly for the public’s benefit.”


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  • March 6, 2020 at 11:12 am

    Does this mean reporters and photographers can’t go out to interview/photograph people?

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  • March 6, 2020 at 11:50 am

    I’m more shocked that they still have people at reception!

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  • March 6, 2020 at 1:27 pm

    Having instructed any staff who’ve recently returned from high risk areas to self isolate I assume JPI will still be paying full salaries?

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  • March 6, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    i thought they shut most of their offices long ago. Some people would have to travel 20 miles to one , so can’t see it hitting the number of people visiting in many cases.

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  • March 9, 2020 at 10:49 am

    I commented on this issue on the internet weeks ago and now it’s gone viral.

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