Organizing a Webinar on the Safety of Journalists during COVID-19 Pandemic
On Tuesday, December8, 2020, more than 20 students and journalists participated in a webinar on the safety of journalists during the COVID-19 pandemic, organised by Journalism & Media International (JMIC) at OsloMet University and the Department of Communication and Digital Media (DCDM) at An-Najah National University.
Journalist safety expert Abeer Saady mentioned that the public’s right to know is an important value and principle; yet, it is intertwined with the rights of journalists to work and carry out their missions under safe conditions without fear, threats, self-censorship, impunity, insecurity or risk of contamination during pandemics. She also presented a holistic approach to safety and security - physical, psychosocial – and focused on Coronavirus safety tips and precautions, journalism ethics and digital safety.
This webinar was part of a series of activities held jointly by JMIC at OsloMet and DCDM at An-Najah University, in accordance with the agreements between the two universities. Webinars on safety of journalists during COVID-19 pandemic have been organised in other countries, such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Uganda and Nepal.
The webinar started with introductory remarks by Oona Solberg, Assistant Professor in the Department of Journalism and Media Studies at OsloMet’s Faculty of Social Sciences and works for Journalism & Media International Center (JMIC) at OsloMe, pointing out that journalists and media workers face important challenges and great dangers ranging from safety to freedom of expression. She said:” The COVID-19 outbreak represented a new challenge as it required media workers and journalists to perform their job by using new strategies and action plans, while risking their lives”.
Solberg added:” almost 500 media workers in 50 countries lost their lives, hundreds of journalists have been infected with coronavirus and 53 were being targeted for other reasons. Many others have suffered attacks, threats, pressures or restrictions on their freedom to inform, according to the Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) www.pressemblem.ch.
Many other international experts expressed serious concern over the lack of protection of journalists in some countries and the challenges and risks they encounter in the field and safety challenges – see for example from Freedom House (https://freedomhouse.org/article/new-report-democracy-under-lockdown-impact-covid-19-global-freedom).
Moreover, Saady discussed how COVID-19 represents a threat, and a challenge to the journalists around the world, and referred to the measurements which should be taken to confront and overcome this challenge. This was followed by a discussion about safety of journalists and journalism ethics and standards in exceptional circumstances. See the recording here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1oLVZS9MoI5imKpsPmSqfqgv-NGAKFRhD/view?usp=sharing