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Brussels, 3 May 2020 – EU Delegations marking World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) 2020 amidst the global coronavirus pandemic were encouraged to support activities online, at a time when many countries are in lockdown or operating under strict social distancing orders.

To facilitate EU Delegations actions on WPFD and as follow up after the Day, Media4Democracy issued an Information Note to EU Delegations proposing they convene online meetings, if possible, in coordination with in-country EU Member States.  Core messages from the European WPFD campaign ‘What if there was no journalism’ and materials were flagged as resources for such meetings.

Online meets provide a viable platform for EU Delegations to highlight the vital role of independent media in providing accurate information to citizens, and for EU Delegations to express support for journalists and media outlets increasingly under physical and financial threats during the pandemic. Online sessions also and importantly allow for exchange of information between donors, media actors and civil society, when such links might be more difficult.

Media4Democracy noted a range of questions that could be used by EU Delegations to frame discussions in the local context, including:

  • Is disinformation on COVID-19 circulating on social media platforms or online and what mechanisms are in place to check and challenge misinformation – such as Fact Checking units or coalitions that can specifically address misinformation?
  • Are journalists safe to report openly and independently on coronavirus; is the government protecting journalists? Do journalists have the resources and equipment they need to work and stay safe?
  • Are journalists able to access relevant government information and/or gain access to public places such as hospitals and clinics, when necessary, to carry out their work?
  • Are journalists classified as ‘key’ or essential workers that will be able to continue working even when people are asked to stay at home as a result of coronavirus?
  • Do local journalists have the technical capacity to use data and report accurately on public health and economic issues; do they have the basic tools and technology to carry out their work during the coronavirus pandemic, including to conduct research and interviews from home?

As EU Delegations can play an important role in informing media networks or relevant implementing partners about tools and materials that are emerging to support media to report on coronavirus, Media4Democracy included in the Information Note examples of such sector tools and resources, with several noted below.

First Draft’s Coronavirus: A Resource for Reporters

First Draft, a global organisation that supports journalists in the digital age, has produced a resource hub with a wide range of reporting tools and materials relevant to journalists based in any country that will be regularly updated and is available in several languages.

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

CPJ has produced a Safety Advisory with information and advice for any journalists reporting on coronavirus.

 UNESCO Resource Center on Response to COVID-19

UNESCO has launched a website to facilitate information sharing and collaboration to support media, enhance access to information and leverage digital technologies to fight the pandemic. It highlights which tools and resources are directly provided by UNESCO and which have been provided by other resources.

Coronavirus Fact Checking Alliance

The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), based at Poynter Institute and supported by UNESCO, is a global network of more than 100 fact-checking organisations that has launched the Coronavirus Fact Checking Alliance to fight disinformation on the pandemic.

Thomson Foundation online courses for journalists reporting on COVID-19

Thomson Foundation has developed a series of free, online interactive courses for journalists covering the pandemic focused on: safety while reporting the story; verifications of facts; and content production.  These courses are available in several languages and were developed in collaboration with Free Press Unlimited (Netherlands), Ethical Journalism Network, International Federation of Journalists, First Draft and the Dart Centre Europe.

Global Voices online platform of reporting from many countries

For samples of how citizen and professional journalists are reporting on coronavirus around the world, Global Voices provides a hub for reporting in many countries.

Countering the ‘InfoDemic’

The BBC Media Action has produced a resource for media in developing countries reporting on coronavirus and addressing the misinformation campaigns.

Global Investigative Journalism Network

Tips for reporting on coronavirus:

© Picture: UNESCO