The spread of the Covid-19 virus has highlighted the crucial role of free information flows and accurate reporting on the scientific, political and economic aspects of the pandemic and international responses. Lockdowns throughout the world and emergency regimes in various countries have presented media with daunting hurdles -- hampering access and ability to gather, and even report, vital information. On the financial front, advertising revenues are collapsing, putting budgets under pressure. For all media, the need for precise scientific data and expert views in reporting on the Covid-19 virus has increased responsibility for fact-checking and access to key sources.
Yet, in Asia and some other regions, media have been threatened with closure or censorship for reporting alleged "fake news," and/or penalties including fines and even imprisonment for violating curfews and other restrictions. Elsewhere, including in the US and Europe, leaders and officials have prevaricated or worse, relayed inaccurate information.
Will Covid-19 and its aftermath fundamentally change the media, in terms of approaches to reporting, standards, regulation and even mode of survival? To mark World Press Freedom Day (May 3), the FCCT convened a panel of experts and media practitioners in Asia and the US for a livestream discussion.
Jonathan Head, BBC Southeast Asia correspondent and FCCT vice president
Anya Schiffrin, director of the Technology, Media, and Communications specialization at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and editor of the forthcoming book Media Capture in the Digital Age (CUP).
Keith Richburg, director of University of Hong Kong's Journalism and Media Studies Center; former Washington Post correspondent, and correspondent governor of the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Hong Kong.
Noppatjak Attaron, Workpoint News, (online) editor; host of Workpoint Today news show, former reporter at Nation TV and a UK Chevening scholar (2016).
Craig Griffin, Thailand representative of ESOMAR, a global association for the data & market research.
Baybars Orsek, Director, International Fact-Checking Network at the Poynter Institute