Antonio Zappulla: Media freedom must not fall victim to covid-19

The pen, being mighty

We have written many times about the importance of a free press, and the dangers of governments – including ours – deliberately undermining media credibility. May 3rd was World Press Freedom Day, and Antonio Zappulla, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation, wrote a powerful op-ed piece which was published widely overseas this weekend. As far as we know, it has not yet been published in the UK other than on the digital sites of overseas media. We think it is an important piece, and asked Mr Zappulla if we could print his column in full. We are delighted that he has consented. 

MEDIA FREEDOM MUST NOT FALL VICTIM TO COVID-19

Antonio  Zappulla, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation

As the world grapples with the speed and scale of the devastation wreaked by Covid-19, the need for access to trusted, accurate and independent information has never been so acute. With global mortality rates showing no signs of slowing, the world’s economy knocked off its axis, and society at a standstill, there is no precedent to this emergency. We are fighting it blindfolded. Each day is costing us thousands of lives. But without the vital free-flow of information – learnings from other countries, warnings from medics, expertise from scientists, guidance to the public – we stand no chance of fighting it at all.

A free and vibrant media is more important than ever. Yet one of most catastrophic fallouts of this crisis is that it is paving the way for a crackdown on press freedoms across the world. A dangerous pattern seems to be emerging; it sees some governments

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