Around the world, many governments have used the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to control information flows and silence voices of dissent. Claiming the need to protect the public from panic and keep people informed with correct information, some countries adopted or amended laws penalizing the distribution of disinformation. In a recent report by the Law Library of the Library of Congress at the request of IREX, researchers detailed how governments in 20 countries have restricted media organizations’ rights and curtailed freedom of speech during the pandemic.
Local media is crucial for democracy, but under stress in both the United States and Europe.
The Embassy of the Czech Republic, in collaboration with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), presents the online discussion Radio Free Europe at 70: Its Importance Then and Now with former RFE/RL directors Jamie Fly and Tom Dine moderated by Tomáš Etzler on December 9, 2020, from 10-11 am.
Today, the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) honored excellence in journalism at its five broadcast networks during the 19th David Burke Distinguished Journalism Awards ceremony, which was held online.
Ukraine’s local elections on October 25 are highly contested and impossible to predict. Following President Zelenskiy’s landslide victory last year, he and his party have fallen in the polls, with approval ratings hovering below 35 percent. With deadlocked peace talks, a continued war in the Donbas, stalled reforms, and increased coronavirus cases devastating the economy, a 2019-style victory for Servant of the People is increasingly unlikely. The new electoral code, which bars independents from running in districts with more than 10,000 citizens, further complicates the picture.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has spread around the world, journalists have made covering the crisis a priority. However, along with increased health risks and declining advertisement revenues, media must also contend with a new set of challenges brought by the pandemic. With COVID-19 data and health information now at the forefront of public attention, information verification is of utmost importance and consequence. At the same time, journalists are combatting increased polarization while being flooded with misinformation. In some countries, the governments are cracking down on independent journalists reporting on the crisis.
The August 9 presidential election in Belarus has led to extensive protests throughout the nation, with the Belarusian population opposing the fraudulent election of the incumbent and longstanding authoritarian Aliaksandr Lukashenka. Mass demonstrations following the marred election, including increasing calls for political change, have been met by a brutal crackdown on Belarusians ordered by Lukashenka and his government and carried out by the security forces, resulting in several thousand detentions, dozens of injuries, and at least one death as of August 12. While Lukashenka’s repression continues unabated, impacting Belarus and protesting Belarusians, the main opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya was forced to flee Belarus under duress to Lithuania for refuge. Meanwhile, the international response to the election has been mixed with China and Russia quickly congratulating Lukashenka and the EU, United States, and transatlantic partners calling the elections fraudulent, condemning and urging an end to Lukashenka’s unconscionable violent crackdown of Belarusians.
While there has been significant attention given to foreign influence operations by state-actors like Iran, far less has been given to how global events shape—and skew—the reality depicted by the Iranian regime to the Iranian people.