European Federation of Journalists

EFJ urges politicians and media to report responsibly on COVID-19

Picture credit: Kenzo Tribouillard / AFP

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) regrets the lack of a coordinated European health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The EFJ calls on European policy-makers, at EU and national level, to make clear recommendations in coordination with all relevant stakeholders.

Journalists must be able to deliver factual information and clear recommendations to citizens who are more and more irritated by the inflation of information around the COVID-19. They have a duty to counter dis- and misinformation about the coronavirus. They have a responsibility to give the floor to experts, qualified to comment on such sensitive issues.

The EFJ joins the IFJ in calling on media to report responsibly and avoid creating any unjustified panic or sharing discriminatory and racist comments.

We believe media and journalists’ role is to provide citizens with verified, accurate and factual reporting and avoid sensationalism that could lead to panic and fear.

The IFJ Global Charter of Ethics for Journalists is an excellent reference in such times of uncertainty. Journalists and media must report on facts and reliable scientific sources, avoiding speculation. Fear-inducing vocabulary that could create a state of alarm that does not correspond to reality should be avoided. Journalists should also be especially sensitive with the privacy of affected people.

Accordingly, the  EFJ calls on public authorities and medical institutions to provide timely and transparent information so that journalists and the public have access to all the relevant information. The EFJ also calls upon media employers to evaluate day by day risks of journalists reporting from both outside and inside the newsroom.