On World Press Freedom Day, 3 May 2020, the theme was Journalism without Fear or Favour. This annual international day acts as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom, a day of reflection among media professionals about issue of press freedom and professional ethics, a day to show support for journalists and their safety as they do their job, and a day of remembrance for those journalists who have lost their lives in the pursuit of a story.
On this day, Professor Jackie Harrison, who leads the UNESCO Chair in Media Freedom, Journalism Safety and the Issue of Impunity at the University of Sheffield, wrote about the crucial role of free and independent journalism grounded in truth and fact and how it is crucial to remedying Covid-19 disinformation.
There are fears that Covid-19 will allow governments to forgo their commitments to the public’s right to know, and regimes will use the crisis to roll back on personal freedoms and media freedom, and that there is a torrent of misinformation being spread around the pandemic.
Professor Harrison is also the Chair and Co-Founder of the Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM) at the University of Sheffield. Two of her colleagues, Dr Julia Posetti, Global Director of Research at the International Center for Journalists, and Professor Kalina Bontcheva, Head of the Natural Language Processing Research Group at the Department of Computer Science, have written two new UNESCO Policy Briefs that assess the worrying extent of misinformation that has accompanied the Covid-19 crisis. The research was produced in partnership with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ).
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