Access to independent information is critical, especially at a time like this. All over the world, people are relying on journalists and media professionals to give them the latest updates on the coronavirus: How fast are infections spreading in their area? What can everyone do to help contain the spread? What is being done to protect the most vulnerable in our societies?
We are tremendously impressed with how media outlets all over the world have risen to the task of informing the public about the pandemic. Many online publications have taken down their paywalls for coverage of the coronavirus, demonstrating their commitment to journalism as a public service. In some cases, newspapers are being produced entirely remotely, so that their staff, too, can work from home and help contain the virus. BNNRC, our partner in Bangladesh, is using community radio to reach even the most remote audiences with information about the virus.
We also see a risk for governments to use the coronavirus as a pretext to implement repressive measures that do nothing to address the current crisis. We must remain vigilant that governments act in the best interest of societies – media play an important role here too.
Here at Free Press Unlimited, we are doing everything we can to support our partner organisations as well as individual journalists who are hit by coronavirus. We are currently following the instructions from government to work from home, but our office remains open at minimal capacity. That is because we believe our partners deserve our solidarity especially now and we want to keep supporting them in all ongoing projects and activities.
We believe that everyone, not just media professionals, can contribute to a healthy information environment. Below, we highlight some resources for journalists as well as the general public that may be of use during the current crisis.
- If you’re a journalist or media professional covering the coronavirus and you’re in need of support, you might be eligible for our Reporters Respond fund.
- Some governments who want to control the flow of information are cracking down on journalists who are reporting on the coronavirus. Journalists who are detained or facing legal issues due to coverage of the virus could be eligible for legal aid through our Legal Defense Fund for journalists.
- The Committee to Protect Journalists has published a safety advisory for journalists covering the pandemic.
- Access to reliable information is vital and can save lives. Make sure you get the facts and not false information. AFP is busting myths on their Fact Check page.
- Unfortunately, scammers are preying on people’s fear during this pandemic. A lot of coronavirus-related malware and phishing scams are currently circulating. Want to know how to protect yourself? Follow a free Totem course on phishing attacks.
- Internet shutdowns or slowdowns can help spread the virus. Still, some governments are denying people access to information. Join the call on these leaders to #KeepItOn.
Photo: Civil Protection Department, Italy