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Media vs. Covid-19 // The Journalists' Crisis Cell for Transparency and ‘Healthy’ Access to Information

10 April 2020
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For journalists, the state of emergency introduced by the authorities in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic is not just about working under special security conditions, but also about restricted access to information of public concern and lack of transparency. We, the team of the Independent Journalism Center from Moldova, appreciate how many of our colleagues continued to do their job in these difficult conditions over the last few weeks. We have also been concerned about the decisions that limited or restricted access to information, to the detriment of citizens, that the authorities were taking. For several weeks, the government officials communicated unilaterally and accepted invitations to TV shows selectively. Thus, many of our colleagues do not have the chance to ask the authorities questions that would provide clarity on the major issues that concern us all.

We believe it is time to remind the officials and civil servants that the role of journalists is to serve the public interest, to inform citizens by presenting the facts in an accurate and unbiased fashion, from different perspectives, but also to warn when official information is not sufficient and does not fully inform. It is time to ask the authorities to be more open and transparent, to treat all the journalists equally, regardless of the media institution they represent.

To coordinate our joint actions better, the Independent Journalism Center created a journalists’ crisis cell, which will report cases of hindered access to information, freedom of expression or the right to inform and will put pressure on the authorities to ensure that journalists’ rights are observed.

Colleagues, we urge you to join the unit, to identify these cases together and, in the public interest, to take joint action to resolve them.

The first action this cell is planning is to submit a joint request to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection demanding that the institution holds online weekly press conferences, with the participation of journalists. The list of signatories is open until Monday, 13 April, when we will submit the request to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Protection.