Media and COVID-19

Last update: 23 March 2021

This Media and COVID-19 Resource Space is the place to find information and resources on the continuation of journalistic work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 crisis has had a tremendous impact on the world and on the media sector worldwide. Now, more than ever, the free flow of reliable and fact-based information is indispensable. However, in many parts of the world there is either a problem with the low quantity of information – especially in, for instance, rural areas – as well as the low quality of information. These can go hand in hand with so-called infodemics: the lack of access to reliable fact-based information and the increase of gossip, rumour and conspiracy in regard to life-saving information on the spread and prevention of COVID-19.

Whenever governments actively play a role in withholding information, the key role of journalists and media professionals becomes even more apparent. Media can play a critical role in educating the public on the virus. However, in carrying out their duty of delivering reliable information, journalists are often met with intimidation, harassment, internet interference and censorship, especially when they ask critical questions about the way their respective governments handle the pandemic. Furthermore, many governments around the world have called a state of emergency, allowing them to temporarily impose certain policies or suspend certain rights in the fight against the pandemic. The state of emergency can be used as a pretext to infringe upon citizens’ human rights and to hamper the work of journalists. One example is the implementation of measures criminalising the spread of fake or false information; while advertised a a measure to fight disinformation, it might be used to censor critical voices. The International Press Institute’s tracker on press freedom violations linked to COVID-19 coverage offers more insight into the threats that journalists worldwide have faced since the start of the pandemic.


Source: International Press Institute

Reporters Without Borders has launched a tool named Tracker 19, which refers to both COVID-19 as article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (freedom of opinion and expression). The aim of this project is the evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on journalism and to document instances of state censorship and misinformation. The map below visualises the countries where incidents have been recorded.

Source: Reporters Without Borders

Other challenges that journalists and media professionals have needed to face, are adapting their work by means of working online and social distancing. Furthermore, the financial health of independent media outlets is under threat, as many of them are experiencing a decline in revenue from advertising. This may have a big impact on critical reporting, but shows the need for media businesses to focus on scenario planning and a business continuity plan. Read our blog with links to many useful resources for media to survive the pandemic.

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Journalism during COVID-19 in Pakistan
Credits: Free Press Unlimited/Digital Rights Foundation

Safe and responsible reporting on COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed a number of challenges to journalists. This page provides an overview of resources relating to how to report responsibly, how to deal with mis- and dis-information, and how to take care of one’s safety and well-being during this crisis.

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Journalism during COVID-19 in Pakistan
Credits: Free Press Unlimited/Digital Rights Foundation

Media and gender in times of COVID-19

Apart from the economic, political, and societal consequences, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and aggravated all the inequalities that already existed and discriminates more against those who were already marginalised. This includes women.

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Credits: AP Photo/Sylvain Cherkaoui

COVID-19 Response in Africa: Together for Reliable Information

A coalition of seven organisations (Free Press Unlimited, ARTICLE 19, Deutsche Welle Akademie, Fondation Hirondelle, International Media Support, Reporters Without Borders and UNESCO) is implementing an eighteen-month-project, financed by DG DEVCO (European Union). This project focuses on supporting the provision of reliable and critical information about COVID-19 in Africa.

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Evidence base: Media and COVID-19

Found 45 Results | Page 1 of 4
Source Year Country Organisation Author
Fighting Disinfodemic in Central Africa: Fact-checkers Experience Against Covid-19 Fake News 2021 Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo University of Duisburg-Essen Santos, F. O. dos
COVID-19 and the Media: A Pandemic of Paradoxes 2021 Colombia, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Zimbabwe International Media Support Macleod, H.
Wanted! Real Action for Media Freedom in Europe 2021 Europe Council of Europe Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists Council of Europe Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists
The Global Expression Report 2021: The state of freedom of expression around the world 2021 Global ARTICLE 19 ARTICLE 19
Coronavirus-Pandemie: Auswirkungen auf die Medienfreiheit in globaler Perspektive 2021 Global Deutsche Welle Akademie Matschke, A.
Final Evaluation COVID-19 Response in Africa: Together for Reliable Information 2021 Africa Betz, M. et al.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Journalism in Emerging Economies and the Global South 2021 Global Thomson Reuters Foundation Radcliffe, D.
Saving Journalism: A Vision for the Post-Covid World 2021 Global Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Schiffrin, A. et al.
Double Trouble: Resilience to Fake News at the Time of Covid-19 Infodemic 2021 Europe OSIS Lessenski, M.
Journalism, Press Freedom and COVID-19 2020 Global UNESCO Pollack, R. et al.
The Right to Information in Times of Crisis: Access to Information – Saving Lives, Building Trust, Bringing Hope! 2020 Global UNESCO UNESCO
Local Radio Stations in Africa Prove Resilient Amid COVID-19 2020 Uganda, Zimbabwe Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA) Myers, M. et al.