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New threats to media freedom with COVID-19

Updated: Mar 26, 2021


Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project
In a blow to press freedom, authorities are allegedly using the COVID-19 crisis to crack down further, foster distrust and deny access to information to media professionals, denying citizens access to the truth at a crucial time. PHOTO: Image Collab

With today being World Press Freedom Day, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a partner of the National Endowment for Democracy, honors journalists who face unprecedented threats in their work. Reports from the OCCRP’s global network show new threats in the face of COVID-19 where citizens suffer as a result, and the OCCRP stand with journalists under threat, highlighting some heightened challenges they are up against. Governments tighten grip on information Drew Sullivan, co-founder of OCCRP, says reports from journalists at their 50 member centers across five continents show how governments are using a range of tactics to control coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and tighten their grip on public information. He says these developments are a crushing blow to press freedom after years of decline, denying citizens access to the truth at a crucial time and in countries with poor press freedom records, authorities are using crisis conditions to crack down further, foster distrust and deny access to information. According to Sullivan, in Venezuela, masked agents of special forces arrested Darvinson Rojas, a journalist, in his home for reporting on the domestic spread of COVID-19. In Macedonia, where public trust in the media is already low, Saska Cvetkovska, journalist at the Investigative Reporting Lab, says “government programming has extremely wide reach and journalists who ask questions are