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How covid-19 impacted journalism in emerging economies and the Global South

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04.02.2021

This piece is an extract from "The Impact of Covid-19 on Journalism in Emerging Economies and the Global South," a report by professor Damian Radcliffe, published by Thomson Reuters Foundation. It is republished here with permission. You can find the full report here

This report has primarily focused on the core challenges being faced by journalists reporting on the coronavirus. Through their work, the news media has attempted to hold governments to account and translate public health information into a format that audiences can make sense of and apply to their daily lives.

As the second wave of the pandemic takes hold around much of the world, this presents an opportunity to take stock of earlier reporting and showcase some of the fresh approaches newsrooms have used in covering covid-19.

New products and approaches

Many news media outlets saw record levels of traffic and engagement in the early stages of the outbreak. Large audiences were hungry for information about this rapidly-changing situation.

As the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) has shown, various media outlets launched new products such as coronavirus-themed podcasts, alerts and newsletters designed to cater for this demand.

Some news providers also dropped their paywalls for covid-19 content, removing a potential barrier to accessing important, potentially life-saving, information. Other players looked to develop new methods of storytelling and distribution, enabling audiences to receive important public health messages in a variety of formats.

In this vein, explainer videos and infographics proved highly popular, with their production going beyond just traditional newsrooms.

The WHO, Stanford University’s School of Medicine, Canada-based YouTube channel AsapSCIENCE, and the Indian medic Dr G Bhanu Prakash are among those successfully using explainer videos and animation to communicate key health messages.

Other approaches and delivery mechanisms have also been used to engage audiences and communicate covid news to audiences.

These efforts reflect the ability of journalists to creatively communicate vital public health messages and meet audiences where they are. They also stress the importance of traditional media, in particular radio, as a means to reach large audiences in parts of the Global South.

Some of the examples that caught our eye include:

A Facebook Live interview in the Philippines, with human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, on the rule of law in a pandemic. The video has been viewed nearly a quarter of a million times. It was hosted by the online news website Rappler.

To support Rohingya communities in Bangladesh, BBC Media Action produced short audio episodes (five minutes or less) called Soiyi Hota ('correct information') designed for dissemination via loudspeakers.

Jakarta-based Kantor Berita Radio (KBR), described by Internews as "the first........

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