Every era brings its own buzzwords or catchphrases along with it. The term du jour is ‘pandemic’, namely ‘coronavirus’ and ‘COVID-19’; but alongside these words, speculation and forecasts over the post-pandemic world are flourishing. There is a proliferation of pieces and commentary on what our daily lives or the economy will be like once the epidemic is under control, that is, how we will live in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Last week, Sierra Leone’s parliament voted to repeal the country’s 55-year-old libel law, which criminalised the publication of information that was deemed defamatory or seditious, and which had been used by successive governments to target and imprison media practitioners and silence dissenting views. But not everyone is convinced it was in the best interest of media freedom.
In May 2019, senior members of Ghana’s law enforcement posed for photos with the U.S. ambassador to their country at a ceremony
in the capital, Accra. Between them they held boxes and bags, gifts from the U.S. government to Ghana which, according to one of the recipients, contained Israeli phone hacking technology.
Governments have made the media “a scapegoat” across Asia, targeting journalists who are simply reporting on the failures or shortcomings of their leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, press freedom experts have warned.
On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day 2020, join UNESCO for a dynamic online
discussion on the importance of press freedom and independent journalism to provide reliable,
life-saving information during the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics to be covered include:
• Fighting disinformation and rumours
• Journalists on the front lines: ensuring their health and safety
• The role of governments: protecting press freedom and independent journalism
• The role of social media and technology: supporting journalism and fighting disinformation
Press freedom in Bangladesh has been in decline long before the coronavirus came to our shores. Over the last decade, thanks to increasingly repressive media laws and highhanded measures adopted by the authorities, the health of journalism has been deteriorating in such a way that even the stalwarts of the fourth estate began to worry if the damage could ever be reversed. Yet, an outcome few would have expected during the Covid-19 crisis—which was expected to unite the people and their leaders against humanity's most dreaded enemy in decades—is the tightening of the noose around free flow of information, which holds the key to this unity. It's a self-defeating strategy that hurts not only the general people and the media, but those tightening the noose as well.
has designated at least 170 specific days of the year as occasions to mark particular events or topics to promote the objectives of the Organization. 2
This might be considered as yet another sign of a supersaturation caused by the internet revolution. However, it cannot be denied that certain issues need to be globally recognized and amended. UNESCO has declared that the 3rd of May will be a day to remind us that media are in several parts of the world under attack, their independence are denied, critical thinking is considered as a threat and journalists seeking the truth are harassed, threatened, roughed up, or even killed. I would like to add that it is also an opportunity to acknowledge that communication, critical thinking, and imagination are essential parts of human existence and culture, if this is suppressed the entire humanity will suffer.
This year’s World Press Freedom Day on 3 May falls during COVID-19 lockdowns in many of our countries. Restriction on movement means journalists all over the world are facing obstacles in getting interviews and data, and verifying stories before publishing.
Andrew Sam Raja Pandian, a digital journalist and founder of a news portal in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, was arrested for running two news articles related to COVID-19.
Wearing an orange jacket and face mask, Li Zehua, a Chinese freelance journalist, can be seen filming himself
in a car. He is sure that state security agents have been pursuing him since he began documenting events in Hubei’s capital Wuhan, the first epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic. A second YouTube video, circulating widely since he launched his appeal, ends abruptly when two men knock at his apartment. He has just reappeared online after two months, saying police interrogated him and put him in quarantine and that he was well looked after during this period.
May 3rd marks World Press Freedom Day
around the world. During this COVID-19 pandemic, a robust media environment is critical: access to life-saving information is key in the fight against the virus. As governments impose a range of restrictions in attempts to curb the pandemic, journalists help hold authorities to account by providing analysis, engaging in debate about government actions, and creating a space for dialogue about the future we all hope to see.
MEDIA WORLDWIDE is facing crises on multiple fronts, exacerbated by the COVID19 pandemic. Reporters without Borders released its 2020 World Press Freedom Index on April 21st, noting that the Coronavirus is being used by authoritarian governments to implement “shock doctrine” measures that would be impossible in normal times.
In 2014 my husband and I were arrested in my native country, Iran, for the crime of working as journalists. I spent 72 days in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, all of them in solitary confinement.
Censorship, smear campaigns and harassment. These are just some of the daily struggles that media professionals are facing in Hungary. And now the threat of jail time may be looming. In the context of World Press Freedom Day, there is little to celebrate in the Eastern Bloc region.
Journalists and rights activists have welcomed the jailing of a man for the murders of Slovak investigative reporter Jan Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kusnirova, but say others involved in the killings must be convicted too if justice is to be fully served.
Governments all over the world have been considering cellphone surveillance to help track and contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Growing intimidation and repression of journalists reporting on the coronavirus is threatening public health in some countries, press freedom monitors have warned.
Plans announced by Slovakia’s prime minister-elect to fund investigative journalists to act as corruption watchdogs on government and state bodies have been dismissed as “a road to hell” by local journalists.
After six months in prison, Tanzanian investigative journalist Erick Kabendera has finally been released at a cost of $118,000.