Globally journalists covering Covid-19 face increasing restrictions

More than 70 percent of journalists globally have suffered restrictions, obstruction or intimidation while reporting on Covid-19, a survey conducted by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) shows.

The survey of 1,308 journalists from 77 countries reveals that as a result of the pandemic, a majority of freelance journalists have lost income or work opportunities, more than a quarter lack essential equipment to enable them to work safely from home, and one in four lack any protective equipment to work in the field. Dozens of journalists have been arrested, faced lawsuits or been assaulted, and more than half of all journalists are suffering from stress and anxiety.

The IFJ is the world’s leading journalists’ organisation, representing 600,000 journalists in 146 countries.

In a statement on the survey findings, the organisation says media freedom in many countries has worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“From Greece to Indonesia and from Chad to Peru journalists used words such as precarious, problematic, terrible, worse, declining and restricted to assess the media freedom environment,” the statement reads.

Furthermore, respondents said the lack of social protection networks and fair employment practices are driving journalists into desperation.

“I work more but earn less money and the newspaper owner I work for owes me and my colleague over seven months’ pay but the government does nothing about this,” said a Greek female journalist in the IFJ statement.

According to the Federation, many journalists complained of increasing attacks on media freedom.

“Almost one in four journalists said they had faced growing difficulties accessing information from government or official sources. Many reported being verbally attacked by politicians. Others complained of restrictions on asking questions at press conferences and restrictions being imposed on the movement of journalists during the crisis, including the withdrawal of recognition of press cards. Some worried that the total focus on Covid-19 related stories meant other important issues were being ignored.”

The survey also shows that more female journalists are suffering increased stress and anxiety compared to their male counterparts as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sofia Branco, President of the Portuguese union of journalists and a member of the IFJ executive board fears that the ongoing impact of Covid-19 will be more severe on women.

“A lot of female colleagues are complaining about the difficulty to reconcile work and private life.”

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Image by liqionary from Pixabay

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