Last update: 18 August 2020
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.
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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.
From August 2020 onward, a coalition of six organisations (Free Press Unlimited, ARTICLE 19, Deutsche Welle Akademie, International Media Support, Fondation Hirondelle and Reporters Sans Frontières) will implement 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 that currently does not reach populations at risk.
Evidence base: Media and COVID-19
|Supporting Local Journalism in the Age of Covid-19||2020||United States of America||Radcliffe, D.||policy recommendations, report|
|Crisis and Opportunity: How Independent Media Can Learn from the Pandemic||2020||Global||Open Society Foundations||report|
|Safety of Journalists and the Fighting of Corruption in the EU||2020||Denmark, Europe, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden||McGonagle, T. et al.||policy recommendations, research report|
|Local Radio Stations in Africa Prove Resilient Amid COVID-19||2020||Uganda, Zimbabwe||Myers, M. et al.||case study/ies|
|Journalism, Press Freedom and COVID-19||2020||Global||UNESCO||policy brief|
|Maintaining Human Rights during Health Emergencies: Brief on Standards Regarding the Right to Information||2020||Global||Centre for Law and Democracy||policy recommendations, research report|
|Bibliography on COVID-19 and Civic Space||2020||Global||Utrecht University||literature review|
|Survey COVID-19 and Women Journalists||2020||Global||International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)||report|