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MFRR SUMMIT - COVID-19: Pandemics, Public Health and Press Freedom


- Dr. Gábor Polyák, Mertek Monitor (Hungary)
- Dr. Lambrini Papadopoulou, Documento (Greece)
- Margo Smit, Ombudsman for Public Broadcasters (The Netherlands)
- Jamie Wiseman, IPI (Austria)
- CHAIR: Paola Rosà, OBCT (Italy)

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed Europe and media freedom is not immune. In 2020, 1 out of 4 alerts published on Mapping Media Freedom were connected to the pandemic in some way. As the virus spread, it gave cover for media freedom violations across the entire continent. Governments’ responses to COVID-19 have sparked large and coordinated protest actions across Europe, which have normalised threats of physical violence aimed at journalists reporting on the demonstrations. Further to this, the pandemic offers governments cover to restrict the press’s access to policy-makers, information and public health information. It has also exacerbated economic threats to media outlets, with states awarding ad revenue or pandemic relief funding to friendly outlets and sidelining independent or critical outlets. In this panel, chaired by Paola Rosà of Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT), speakers will diagnose the impact of COVID-19 on media freedom in Hungary, Greece and Netherlands. Jamie Wiseman of International Press Institute will also offer a continent-wide picture through IPI’s COVID Press Freedom Tracker.
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