Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on journalism
|Part of a series on the|
The COVID-19 pandemic has strongly impacted the journalism industry and affected journalists' work. Many local newspapers have been severely affected by losses in advertising revenues from COVID-19; journalists have been laid off, and some publications have folded. Many newspapers with paywalls lowered them for some or all of their COVID-19 coverage. The pandemic was characterized as a potential "extinction event" for journalism as hundreds of news outlets closed and journalists were laid off around the world, advertising budgets were slashed, and many were forced to rethink how to do their jobs amid restrictions on movement and limited access to information or public officials. Journalists and media organizations have had to address new challenges, including figuring out how to do their jobs safely and how to navigate increased repression and censorship brought on by the response to the pandemic, with freelancers facing additional difficulties in countries where press cards or official designations limit who can be considered a journalist.
Journalists have worked to produce coverage of the pandemic combating misinformation, providing public health updates, and supplying entertainment to help people cope with the virus's impact. The COVID-19 pandemic has also enabled citizen journalism to a small extent, for example, through the CoronaReport digital journalism project, "a citizen science project which democratizes the reporting on the Coronavirus, and makes these reports accessible to other citizens." The long duration of the pandemic may have resulted in a COVID-19 information fatigue that could pose a challenge for journalists.
In some countries – including Turkey, Egypt, India, Bangladesh, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Madagascar, Zambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Venezuela, Belarus, Montenegro, Kosovo, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, and Somalia – journalists have been threatened or arrested for their coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jordanian authorities arrested Roya TV channel's owner, Fares Sayegh, and its news director, Mohamad al-Khalidi, for reporting on lack of jobs and money needed by labourers to feed families during the curfew in mid-April.
On March 16, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis signed an emergency decree, giving authorities the power to remove, report or close websites spreading "fake news" about the COVID-19 pandemic, with no opportunity to appeal.
In Madagascar, a journalist was arrested and charged with spreading fake news and incitement of hatred towards President Andry Rajoelina after she criticized the president's handling of the pandemic.
On May 5, Philippines' National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) issued a cease and desist order against the operations of, ABS-CBN TV network, forcing it to suspend operations for all of its physical broadcasting channels. There are allegations that the NTC refusal over the renewal of the franchise was based on the network's critical news coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration. ABS-CBN said: "Millions of Filipinos will lose their source of news and entertainment when ABS-CBN is ordered to go off-air on TV and radio tonight... People need crucial and timely information as the nation deals with the COVID-19 pandemic."
On June 16, Egyptian journalist and editor-in-chief of the al-Diyar newspaper was detained and charged with spreading false news, joining a "terrorist organization" and misusing social media after he criticized his country's handling of the pandemic.
BuzzFeed announced it was ending its news operations in Australia, as well as in the UK, partly due to a slump in advertising revenue due to the pandemic. The news outlet furloughed its four Australia news staff in the cutback.
In Canada, a number of permanent layoffs and the closure of newspapers have been attributed to the pandemic.
In Atlantic Canada, production was suspended on all weekly publications owned by SaltWire Network, for a 3-month period. Only its four dailies (The Chronicle Herald, Cape Breton Post, The Guardian, and The Telegram) were kept in production. Halifax alternative weekly The Coast also laid off staff.
Postmedia ended the publication of the Manitoba newspapers Altona Red River Valley Echo, Carman Valley Leader, Gimli's Interlake Spectator, Morden Times, Selkirk Journal, Stonewall Argus & Teulon Times, Winkler Times, and The Prairie Farmer. In Ontario, they closed the newspapers Kingsville Reporter, Windsor-Essex's Lakeshore News, LaSalle Post, Tecumseh Shoreline Week, and Tilbury Times. Further, The Napanee Guide and Paris Star have ceased their print editions, and are now online-only.
Torstar brand Metroland Media has ceased the print editions of the Beach-East York Neighbourhood Voice, Bloor West-Parkdale Neighbourhood Voice, and York-City Centre Neighbourhood Voice newspapers. The Bolton offices of The Caledon Enterprise were closed, with staff moving into the Brampton Guardian and Mississauga News shared newsroom in Mississauga.
In Quebec, CN2i reduced their six daily newspapers to Saturday editions as of March. The move resulted in 143 temporary layoffs.
Sing Tao Daily Toronto, owned by Torstar, ended its weekly free print edition. Canadian Jewish News is closed its operations after 60 years. Winnipeg's The Jewish News and Post, established in 1925, became an online-only publication.
The South China Morning Post announced on April 22, 2020, that it would introduce a package of cost-cutting and revenue-raising measures intended to weather the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Twenty-seven senior executives had immediate pay cuts, higher paid staff were asked to take three weeks unpaid leave, salaries were frozen, and a limited number of redundancies were made. From August 2020 the newspaper announced it was bringing back its paywall to try to make up the revenue shortfall due to loss of advertising during the pandemic.
As of May 4, 2020, almost 100 journalists had tested positive for COVID-19 in India. Fifteen employees of the Jai Maharashtra news network had the virus, as did nineteen employees of the Punjab Kesari newspaper. Media watchers reported jobs losses, pay cuts, and shutting down of editions in various places in India.
Many media organisations have reported slumps in advertising revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, said the pandemic had caused the "biggest existential crisis" in the history of the press, as local and national newspapers experienced circulation decline.
BuzzFeed announced it was ending its news operations in the UK, as well as in Australia, partly due to a slump in advertising revenue due to the pandemic. Its ten news staff in the UK were furloughed in the cutback.
The newspaper group Reach plc, which owns titles including the Daily Mirror and Daily Express, reported a 30% fall in its revenues for April 2020. In July 2020 it announced that due to falling income it would cut 550 jobs.
By May 2020, 50 local newspapers had stopped appearing in print. Meanwhile, digital subscriptions to The Times newspaper were up significantly, according to its editor John Witherow. Amid the pandemic, the Daily Mail overtook The Sun as the biggest-selling newspaper in the UK in May 2020.
The scale of the COVID-19 outbreak has prompted several major publishers to temporarily disable their paywalls on related articles, including Bloomberg News, The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Seattle Times. Many local newspapers were already severely struggling before the crisis. Several alt weekly newspapers in affected metropolitan areas, including The Stranger in Seattle and Austin Chronicle, have announced layoffs and funding drives due to lost revenue. Advertisements concerning public events and venues accounted for a majority of revenue for alt-weekly newspapers, which was disrupted by the cancellation of large public gatherings. Online advertisements also dropped to avoid running ads next to COVID-19 coverage.
- Hsu T, Tracy M (March 23, 2020). "Local News Outlets Dealt a Crippling Blow by This Biggest of Stories". The New York Times.
- "Africa's media hit hard by COVID-19 crisis". Deutsche Welle. May 14, 2020.
- Jerde, Sara (March 12, 2020). "Major Publishers Take Down Paywalls for Coronavirus Coverage". Adweek. Retrieved March 25, 2020.
- "Legacy Media in Crisis, Boom for Digital Media— COVID-19 & Media Sustainability in West Africa". Media Foundation For West Africa. June 5, 2020. Retrieved October 16, 2021.
- "Journalism during Covid-19: Loss of lives, layoffs and cutbacks". https://www.printweek.in. Retrieved October 16, 2021. External link in
- Radsch, Courtney (June 9, 2020). "Safety protocols for covering COVID-19 aim to protect freelancers". International Journalists' Network. Retrieved October 16, 2021.
- Radsch, Courtney (April 23, 2020). "Freelance journalists risk lives and livelihoods amid COVID-19 pandemic". Committee to Protect Journalists. Retrieved October 16, 2021.
- "How has the pandemic affected journalism? New report offers a sobering snapshot". International Journalists' Network. Retrieved October 16, 2021.
- Natividad, Ivan (May 6, 2020). "COVID-19 and the media: The role of journalism in a global pandemic". Berkeley News. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
- "CoronaReport". April 2020. Retrieved April 13, 2021.
- "Corona Report App (social media)". April 2020. Retrieved April 13, 2021.[non-primary source needed]
- Skulmowski, Alexander; Standl, Bernhard (May 6, 2021). "COVID ‐19 information fatigue? A case study of a German university website during two waves of the pandemic". Human Behavior and Emerging Technologies: hbe2.260. doi:10.1002/hbe2.260.
- "Turkish journalists arrested for reporting Covid-19 cases". Reporters Without Borders. May 11, 2020.
- "Egypt is more concerned with controlling information than containing the coronavirus". The Globe and Mail. April 3, 2020.
- "Journalists detained, assaulted in India during COVID-19 lockdown". Committee to Protect Journalists. April 28, 2020.
- "Bangladeshi journalists, cartoonist, arrested for Covid-19 coverage". Reporters Without Borders. May 14, 2020.
- "Iraqi Kurdistan: Wave of arrests of journalists since Covid-19's arrival". Reporters Without Borders. April 17, 2020.
- "Iran: Press freedom violations recounted in real time January 2020". Reporters Without Borders. May 14, 2020.
- "Coronavirus Law Used to Arrest Nigerian Journalist Over Health Story". Market Watch. April 20, 2020.
- "Ethiopia: Free Speech at Risk Amid Covid-19". Human Rights Watch. May 6, 2020.
- "Protect Kenya's Journalists Reporting on Covid-19". Human Rights Watch. May 4, 2020.
- "Is Tanzania covering up the real number of coronavirus deaths?". Al Jazeera. May 12, 2020.
- "Ugandan journalists 'assaulted by security forces' amid coronavirus lockdowns". Deutsche Welle. April 24, 2020.
- "Southern Africa: COVID-19 a pretext for surge in harassment of journalists and weakening of media houses by states". Amnesty International. May 3, 2020.
- "Authorities across West Africa attacking journalists covering COVID-19 pandemic". IFEX. April 22, 2020.
- "Press freedom violations throughout Africa linked to Covid-19 coverage". Radio France Internationale. April 14, 2020.
- "Venezuela arbitrarily detaining reporters covering COVID-19: CPJ". Al Jazeera. May 3, 2020.
- "Belarusian journalist arrested for criticizing president's Covid-19 approach". Reporters Without Borders. March 31, 2020.
- "Concern for Rights in Montenegro amid COVID-19 Fight". Balkan Insight. March 26, 2020.
- "Watchdogs Concerned Over 'Pressure' Put On Kosovar News Portal Amid Pandemic". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. April 12, 2020.
- "Kazakh journalists harassed over Covid-19 reporting". Reporters Without Borders. April 30, 2020.
- "Azerbaijan: Crackdown on Critics Amid Pandemic". Human Rights Watch. April 16, 2020.
- "Malaysian journalist faces six years in prison over COVID-19 Facebook posts". Committee to Protect Journalists. May 5, 2020.
- "Singapore's Fake News and Contempt Laws a Threat to Media, Journalists Say". Voice of America. May 6, 2020.
- "Some leaders use pandemic to sharpen tools against critics". ABC News. April 16, 2020.
- "Somali Journalists Arrested, Intimidated While Covering COVID-19". Voice of America. April 18, 2020.
- "Coronavirus Has Started a Censorship Pandemic". Foreign Policy. April 1, 2020.
- "Jordan military arrests TV executives for airing virus complaints". Al Jazeera. April 10, 2020.
- "Romania's Drive to Censor 'Fake News' Worries Activists". Balkan Insight. April 27, 2020.
- "COVID-19: restrictions on access to information in Romania". European Federation of Journalists. March 29, 2020.
- "Myanmar blocks hundreds of news sites and threatens editor with life in jail". The Guardian. April 1, 2020.
- "In mid-coronavirus crisis, Myanmar blocks 221 sites for "fake news"". Reporters Without Borders. April 3, 2020.
- Voices, Global (March 7, 2020). "China censors report about how authorities hid coronavirus genome sequence test results for 14 days". Hong Kong Free Press. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
- "Philippines largest TV network ABS-CBN ordered shut". Al Jazeera. May 5, 2020.
- "Philippines' main channel forced off-air amid coronavirus lockdown". The Guardian. May 5, 2020.
- "Major Philippines broadcaster regularly criticized by President Duterte forced off air". CNN. May 6, 2020.
- "Egypt arrests journalist on fake news charges". Deutsche Welle. June 16, 2020.
- Sweney, Mark (May 13, 2020). "BuzzFeed pulls plug on UK and Australian news operations". The Guardian. Retrieved May 13, 2020.
- Sagan, A. (April 28, 2020). "Postmedia to lay off 80 employees, permanently close 15 newspapers as COVID-19 hits revenue". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
- Quon, Alexander (May 24, 2020). "Coronavirus continues to upend Atlantic media outlets as SaltWire lays off 40% of staff". Global News. Halifax NS. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
- Patil, Anjuli (March 24, 2020). "Atlantic Canada's largest newspaper chain temporarily lays off 40% of staff". Halifax NS: CBC News. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
- Lefebvre, Charles (April 28, 2020). "Postmedia shuttering community newspapers in Manitoba, Ontario". CTV Winnipeg. Winnipeg MB. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
- "Torstar ceasing publication of three Toronto community newspapers". Toronto.com. Toronto ON. April 16, 2020. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
- Strader, Matthew (April 30, 2020). "The Caledon Enterprise will close Bolton office". The Caledon Enterprise. Caledon ON.
- Lauzon, Véronique (March 23, 2020). "Le Soleil et d'autres journaux suspendent leurs publications papier". La Presse. QC. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
- Wheeler, Brad (April 7, 2020). "The Canadian Jewish News closes after 60 years". The Globe and Mail. Toronto ON. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
- Wolfe, Elizabeth (April 13, 2020). "To our readers: everything has its season. It is time". Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
- Chisvin, Sharon (May 2, 2020). "Jewish newspapers affected by coronavirus". Winnipeg Free Press. Winnipeg MB. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
- "SCMP to cut top management pay and put staff on unpaid leave". South China Morning Post. April 22, 2020. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
- "South China Morning Post to Put Up Paywall Amid Hong Kong Slump". Bloomberg. July 27, 2020. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
- Biswas, Soutik (May 4, 2020). "Coronavirus: How Covid-19 is ravaging India's newsrooms". BBC News. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
- "Job losses, pay cuts, editions shut – coronavirus triggers new crisis for Indian media". The Print. April 23, 2020. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
- "The Quint sends 45 staffers on indefinite leave without pay, ToI lays off 3 from Sunday magazine". News Laundry. May 30, 2020. April 13, 2020.
- "Layoffs, pay cuts, leave without pay: COVID-19 hits Indian media". The News Minute. April 14, 2020. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
- "Media Companies 'Using Lockdown' to Lay Off Employees, Cut Salaries". The Wire. April 15, 2020. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
- Drury, Colin (April 18, 2020). "'Save the fourth emergency service': Culture secretary urges people buy a paper as press struggles amid coronavirus crisis". The Independent. Retrieved May 15, 2020.
- Mayhew, Freddy (March 20, 2020). "City AM suspends print and cuts salaries as coronavirus hits business". Press Gazette. Retrieved May 13, 2020.
- Mayhew, Freddy (April 23, 2020). "Covid-19 ad slump costing Independent six-figures in lost revenue as it furloughs staff and cuts pay". Press Gazette. Retrieved May 13, 2020.
- Sweney, Mark (May 7, 2020). "Mirror and Express owner reports 30% slump in revenues". The Guardian. Retrieved May 13, 2020.
- "Daily Mirror owner Reach to cut 550 jobs as sales fall". BBC News. July 7, 2020. Retrieved July 7, 2020.
- Cotter, Lucy (May 11, 2020). "Coronavirus: Senior media figures warn of COVID-19 'perfect storm' hitting newspapers". Sky News. Retrieved February 16, 2021.
- Wood, Vincent (June 20, 2020). "Daily Mail takes title of UK's most read paper from The Sun after 42-year run". The Independent. Retrieved June 20, 2020.
- Waterson, Jim (July 15, 2020). "Guardian announces plans to cut 180 jobs". The Guardian. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
- Jerde, Sara (March 12, 2020). "Major Publishers Take Down Paywalls for Coronavirus Coverage". Adweek. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
- Allsop, Jon (March 13, 2020). "How the coronavirus could hurt the news business". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
- Scire, Sarah (March 12, 2020). ""This time is different": In Seattle, social distancing forces The Stranger to make a coronavirus plea". Nieman Foundation for Journalism. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
- "Pandemic Threatens Local Papers Even As Readers Devour Their Coverage". NPR.
- Mapping of media impacts in Canada, through J-Source, a program of Ryerson University.
- Covid and free speech: The impact of COVID-19 and ensuing measures on freedom of expression in Council of Europe member states, through the Council of Europe.