Publication Date: September 2020
Research and Editorial Team: Dr. Julie Posetti, Prof. Emily Bell, Dr. Pete Brown
Journalism and the Pandemic. A Global Snapshot of Impacts

The Journalism and the Pandemic Project from the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University presents the first large-scale global survey of journalists since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The project is mapping the impacts of COVID-19 on journalism worldwide, informing responses to the crisis, and helping to reimagine its future.

The first 30 findings from the project - based on responses from more than 1,400 English-speaking journalists from 125 countries - are both startling and disturbing: journalists and news organizations are grappling with a mental health crisis, financial peril, physical safety threats, and press freedom attacks, while simultaneously battling pandemic levels of disinformation.

Among the top findings:

  • Politicians and elected officials were identified by 46% of respondents as a top source of disinformation.
  • 81% said they encounter disinformation at least weekly, with more than one-quarter identifying false information many times a day.
  • Facebook was identified as the most prolific spreader of disinformation.
  • Nearly half said their sources had expressed fear of retaliation for speaking to journalists during the pandemic.
  • 30% said that their news organizations had not supplied field reporters with a single piece of protective equipment during the first wave of the pandemic.
  • 70% identified the mental health impacts of covering COVID-19 as the most difficult challenge.

From the conclusions:

"Our report demonstrates that journalists are working in a severely pressured financial, physical and psychological environment during the pandemic. This will be the most enduringly difficult professional period many have experienced during their careers. There is the added complication of an information ecosystem that is too tolerant of dis/misinformation and unreliable sources, including officials and politicians who politicize the crisis at the expense of truthfulness and accountability. Despite the challenges, a significant opportunity exists for journalism as a field to build on the renewed levels of mission, audience engagement and clearly demonstrated need for accountability reporting the pandemic has highlighted".

Tags: COVID-19

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