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Ministry of Health, after cessation of online press conferences with the media: Information is provided through participation in programs, interviews, and replies to requests for information

11 November 2020
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The Ministry of Health, Labor, and Social Protection is in no hurry to resume online press conferences with questions asked directly by the media, which it ceased in September. In an official response to the Independent Journalism Center, ministry representatives promised that, “in the near future,” they will organize press conferences in an “updated format.” In this context, some journalists pointed out that “information gaps can lead to a decrease in public interest for the topic.”

After several media outlets and non-governmental organizations specialized in this field asked the Ministry of Health, through a public appeal, to resume the organization of online press conferences directly with journalists, the Health Minister Viorica Dumbrăveanu promised that the ministry “will return to organizing briefings and press conferences in an updated format.” She added that they also inform the public “through participation of the ministry’s representatives in programs and interviews, as well as by providing answers to all requests for information from journalists,” while the information on Covid-19 “is constantly updated on the official website and Facebook page of the ministry.”
Viorica Dumbrăveanu reminds that the ministry currently conducts weekly briefings to present updated information about the epidemiological situation regarding the Covid-19 infection.

JOURNALISTS: THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH TREATS THE MEDIA SELECTIVELY

One of the founders of Cu Sens media project, Liuba Șevciuc, claims that interviews and participation in some TV programs is not enough, because the ministry thus “cannot answer all questions of public interest.” “From my own experience, I can say that it can sometimes take weeks to obtain an interview from a Ministry of Health representative, or we can even receive a refusal. However, the citizen must be informed today, that is why the resumption of online conferences is a necessity,” argued Liuba Șevciuc.

The news director of TV8, Mariana Rață, invoked that the ministry is selective in choosing the media outlet where it would appear. “The most prompt method of informing citizens is press conferences, which allow journalists to ask questions and receive answers immediately, seeing the reaction of the authorities. Unfortunately, the ministry’s representatives are selective in choosing the TV programs and stations they can go to, while written answers are a good method of communication only for print media, and even so, it takes a long time. If there is openness, why not show it fully?” the TV8 representative wonders.

The editorial team of Moldova.org believes that there is still need for journalists to be able to ask questions to authorities directly, “especially given the pandemic situation in the country, when we have record numbers of new cases almost every day.” “Regarding the organization of briefings and press conferences ‘in an updated format,’ we need to know when they will start, how often they will take place, and what format will be chosen. Please note that media representatives could be consulted about the format of these events,” said Anastasia Condruc, editor-in-chief of Moldova.org.

DIRECT COMMUNICATION AND THE IMPACT ON CITIZENS

The journalist claims that the impact of the debated topic on people also depends on the direct communication of authorities with the media. “We reiterate the urgent need to provide media outlets with the opportunity to ask questions directly, in order to inform the public about various aspects of the issue. Information gaps can lead to a decrease of the public’s interest in this topic, in safety measures and, thus, can contribute to the even more rapid spread of Covid-19,” underlined Anastasia Condruc.

The executive director of the Independent Journalism Center (IJC), Nadine Gogu, mentioned that journalists need firsthand answers in order to inform correctly and impartially about the
situation regarding Covid-19 – “up-to-date answers, from sources that can be cited directly, both in audio and video format.” “Given that the situation changes from day to day, journalists cannot wait for days on end for answers to the questions they have in order to make original materials that address the topic of the pandemic multilaterally,” said Nadine Gogu.

On April 20, 2020, following the call of the Journalists’ Crisis Cell, the ministry’s press service announced that the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Social Protection will hold online press conferences with direct answers to journalists’ questions in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Subsequently, in the autumn, the ministry suspended the conduct of these events.

 
 

Sursa foto: Captură privesc.eu/Conferința Ministerului Sănătății, online cu jurnaliștii