Publication Date: May 2020
Publisher: Council of Europe
Research and Editorial Team: Peter Noorlander
Covid and Free Speech. The impact of COVID-19 and ensuing measures on freedom of expression in Council of Europe member states

In line with previous annual reports on freedom of expression, the report explores the impacts of measures taken by authorities to contain COVID-19 under four headings:

a. legal and regulatory frameworks;

b.  the safety of journalists and others who speak up;

c.  the media environment; and

d.  the promotion of quality journalism and media literacy.

The  pandemic  has  demonstrated a great desire for quality  information, with a significant part of the public returning to traditional and public service media as main source of news.

Member states should capitalise on this newly re-discovered trust in the traditional media and redouble their efforts to promote quality journalism by creating a favourable environment and supporting sustainable, pluralist journalism, including at local level.

However, while  demand for quality news and information has gone up, the ability of the media to deliver has been greatly diminished.

Among the key actions to be implemented, there is the invitation to Member States to create an enabling environment for quality journalism, including by promoting media pluralism, promoting secure working conditions for journalists and ending undue political or business interference in editorial policies, thereby strengthening safeguards for the independence of public media during crisis situations.

Tags: COVID-19

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