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article imageOp-Ed: How the COVID-19 pandemic has affected journalism

By Karen Graham     Jun 26, 2020 in World
Richmond - The world is experiencing rapid news development due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ever-changing and often unverified nature of information on the coronavirus has created a number of challenges for journalists, researchers, and media brands
The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the journalism industry - worldwide. Many local newspapers have been severely affected by losses in advertising revenues from coronavirus; journalists have been laid off, and some publications have folded, per the New York Times.
Doyle Murphy, the editor in chief of Riverfront Times, a 43-year-old weekly in St. Louis, Missouri was hit especially hard when the coronavirus hit his state. A number of restaurants the paper depended on for advertising had to close when the city announced restrictions on dining out to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
“These are people who have supported the paper for years,” Mr. Murphy said in an interview. “That’s when we realized we were going to have to take drastic steps if we had any hope of coming out of this on the other side.”
In an article on the day his paper had to layoff employees for the first time ever, Mr. Murphy described the pandemic as “a nearly perfect weapon against alternative weeklies.”
The biggest story ever covered
Globally, the coronavirus pandemic has been the biggest story covered, yet the pandemic has adversely affected all of the news media. Not only have advertising revenues been hit hard, but layoffs have hit the industry - just like other businesses.
Yet, through all of this pandemic, journalists have also had to combat misinformation, provide public health updates, and supply entertainment to help people cope with the virus's impact. It has been particularly rough for journalists in countries where there is very little or no freedom of the press.
Granted, some groups purposely plant fake news stories in an effort to create dissension or political bias. This is being done in many countries by rogue states intent on causing chaos and for that matter, this is also done by a number of "home-grown" groups.
The coronavirus pandemic has proved to be a useful tool for some governments to suppress criticism and undesirable information through creating a proliferation of laws against disinformation, or so-called "fake news." All this does is give an authoritarian government another weapon in its arsenal to suppress the free press.
Turkey, Egypt, India, Bangladesh, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, the Philippines, and Venezuela are just a few of the countries where journalists have been threatened or arrested for their coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a journalist, it is sometimes difficult to sort through pages of research and other materials, hoping that what I find can be backed up by factual information and not just a wild assumption on someone's part. But I learned early on that a story based on assumptions or outright lies is not worth repeating. But that is me, the researcher talking.
Getting the story out to readers is terribly important, and making sure that readers get the real facts is what journalism is all about. Science and legitimate sources outweigh fake news and the public needs to know this.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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