Ebola: Freelancers on the front-line

First the good news. It appears that Ashoka Mukpo, the journalist who contracted Ebola, is on the mend. With the sort of understatement that proves he has British blood, he tweets…

However, a question is floating around about who will pay his health care costs – likely to be of the order of some hundreds of thousands of dollars. His friends have set up a crowdfunding page:

Ashoka

The target is $500,000 and it’s a worthy cause. But does this mean that Mr Mukpo’s clients – notably NBC News and Vice – are reluctant to pay his medical costs and his longer-term rehabilitation?

There is a response in this AP piece, saying:

NBC and the VICE Media Group say they’re coordinating to assist in paying for his medical care. NBC says it wants a solution where he and his family won’t have to pay anything.

Well, NBC, there’s an obvious solution: Get out your sodding chequebook. After everything freelancers have been through in Syria and the gains made, it seems we are back to square one.

Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe so long as the money is raised and Mr Mukpo makes a full recovery everything is OK.

But it seems a pretty poor state of affairs for major news organisations to use freelancers to provide front-line coverage and then work out ways to avoid footing the bill. They wouldn’t do that for a staffer. And it risks making them look as if they are shirking their responsibilities


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