As the coronavirus pandemic progressed around the world, the action of the press began to be essential. Not only to help governments and health authorities adequately inform the population about measures to tackle this disease, but also to combat the massive circulation of false information , especially on social media worldwide.
The World Health Organization (WHO) called the viralización false news as a “desinfodemia” that has become a “second disease” that accompanies the pandemic of the covid-19.
This has caused people to not find reliable sources and reliable guidance when they need it. Therefore, journalism is key to provide reliable information and combat myths and rumors.
However, at the same time, journalism worldwide also suffers the consequences of the epidemic with reporters killed by the virus. Furthermore, the economic crisis stemming from the pandemic is no stranger to the traditional media , many of which have been forced to close and dozens of journalists have been left without jobs.
Likewise, the measures taken by the States to combat the disease with declarations of states of exception , in some cases have caused problems with freedom of expression and access to information on the pretext that all data must be officially disclosed by the authorities. .
These issues caught the attention of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), which organized a virtual conference to analyze the problem of journalism in the context of covid-19, in which leaders of entities Press and world leaders touched on the issue.
Without the action of journalism, false content can spread rampantly, said Unesco Director-General Audrey Azoulay.
The circulating falsehoods can be classified into false information (produced and shared with malicious motivation) and erroneous information when these lies are spread without malicious intent. However, in the context of the covid-19 , the effects of these two modalities can be equally deadly. ” Information is a fundamental right as it can save lives, ” said Azoulay.
For this he recognized journalists, women and men. “Those who commit and risk to keep us informed. Their work is more important than ever, as they help the public to know how to act and governments to make informed decisions. ”
The Secretary General of the United Nations ( UN ), Antonio Guterres , also highlighted the importance of journalism in the world and that at the moment it is carried out under extreme conditions, since the epidemic affects the whole world.
In the debate , Facebook’s policy director (FB), Monika Bircket, noted that they are committed to helping the press and the world’s population stay properly informed.
He clarified that the platform has identified 40 million publications related to covid-19 and that they received warnings about its content for containing erroneous or misrepresented data ; and hundreds of thousands of items of false information related to the virus were also removed .
In addition, he said $ 25 million awarded grants to media in America north through the Project Facebook for Journalism. They also allocated $ 1 million to local data verification organizations.
The president of the International Federation of Journalists , Younes Mujahid , from Morocco, stressed that reporters around the world are not only losing their lives but also their sources of work. “It is vital that governments help with subsidies to this sector, because we cannot imagine the democracy of the planet without a free press .”
He also warned that there are countries that, under the pretext of the pandemic, are restricting rights and hindering the work of journalists seeking to access information.
The United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, mentioned that the integrity of the reporters who are covering the incidences of the disease must be protected and care must be taken that freedom of expression is not affected or that there is censorship.
The coverage of the crisis , can educate and inform, promote solutions and peace, encouraging citizen participation and government responsibility, warned the Unesco . ( I )