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March 18, 2020

International Press Institute (IPI) urges governments worldwide to recognize the crucial role of independent news media in the coronavirus pandemic.

International Press Institute

International Press Institute, Press Conference

Photo: Members of the Press on the South Lawn of the White House during a recent Press Conference. (Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour). [File Photo]

Vienna, Austria, March 17, 2020 — The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists, today urged governments worldwide to recognize the crucial role of independent news media in the coronavirus pandemic. It asked them to ensure that they do not use the emergency measures to tackle the disease as a pretext to censor news and information on and offline.

“First and foremost, we recognize that the COVID-19 coronavirus poses a major threat to global public health and that governments around the world need to implement emergency measures to protect the health of their citizens,” IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi said.

“The free flow of independent news is essential than ever in informing the public on vital measures to contain the virus as well as in maintaining an open dialogue on the adequacy of those measures. Also, it is necessary for winning public trust.”

“In this age of disinformation, the public needs news that it can trust. It is critical at this stage that governments support the work of independent media, which are crucial allies in the fight against COVID-19,” Barbara Trionfi added.

At the same time, Trionfi expressed concern about the potential for the authorities to use the crisis to introduce new curbs on rights, including free expression, that could outlive the current situation.

“This pandemic is seeing some of the most wide-ranging restrictions on individual freedoms in peacetime. We, therefore, urge all states to ensure that any measures to tackle COVID-19 that infringe on fundamental rights are necessary, proportionate, temporary, and limited to solving the immediate health crisis,” she said.

“As the death toll mounts, economic hardship spreads, and the public grow restive about restrictions on their rights, the governments’ temptation to control media scrutiny will be, in some cases, overwhelming. It is imperative that the health crisis not be used as an excuse to rush through regressive regulations that could affect independent media coverage of the crisis and its consequences.”

IPI has called on all governments to work with media and ensure that journalists are enabled to do the best job they can in reporting the health crisis. IPI has asked the governments to:

Guarantee fair and equal access to journalists and media to all information related to the health crisis. Where health measures preclude physical access such as to press conferences, alternative access must be made available.

Protect freedom of movement for media and access to decision-makers, health care professionals, and others combatting the pandemic.

“IPI remains as committed as ever to ensuring that any act to suppress the free flow of news and information will pass neither unnoticed nor unquestioned,” Trionfi added. “In the coming weeks and for the entire length of the ongoing crisis, IPI will systematically monitor restrictions on media freedom imposed as a consequence of the crisis and share that information on various media platforms.”

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Edited & Posted by the Editor | 5:31 AM | Link to this Post

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