17 April 2020

Actions taken by the media and the impact of the COVID-19

Press Association Strategies
· Free online access to media. Many media have opened their paywalls on news regarding the pandemic. In USA the McClatchy network activated the paywall again and the prestigious Poynter Institute recommended media to upload their paywalls again in order to get more subscribers and counteract the financial crisis.

· Several newspapers of the Gannett network in the US are offering free advertising packages on multiple platforms to help businesses "deeply affected" by the pandemic." They also offer a package that consists of 10,000 digital impressions and a three columns by five inches print ad in the newspaper or magazine of their choice.

· The News Media Alliance and America's Newspapers, which represent hundreds of media outlets in the US, are calling for "a discussion of the actions the federal government could take to collaborate in maintaining the information ecosystem."

· Reduction of distribution of newspapers in the street, due to general restrictions on quarantine.

· Joint campaigns of publication of the same portals #quédateencasa (#stayhome), #TómateloEnSerioMX (#takeitseriously) and other topics.

· Publication of literary texts, texts for children and other educational materials.

· Reduction of work in the newsrooms and increase of remote work.

· Reinforcement of digital security to prevent cyberattacks.

· Some corporate media reduced the salaries of their executives.

· In Argentina, the open television channels Telefe, El Trece, El Nueve, America, Public TV and Net TV, joined forces to raise awareness of the pandemic and raise funds for the Argentine Red Cross.

· Share resources between media, joint contextualization coverage.

· In the context of the pandemic, media and civil society organizations in the region have created data-based projects (Examples: Chile, Centro Producción del Espacio; Argentina, La Nación Data; Brazil, Nucleo; Peru, Peru, Ojo Público ; México, Tukan; Colombia El Tiempo and DataSketch; Costa Rica, Hässel Fallas.).

· The European Journalism Center (EJC) and the Facebook Journalism Project (FJP) launched the European Journalism Support Fund COVID-19 consisting of $ 3 million to support local and regional European media. Financial support is offered to cover the pandemic, both in the short term and for larger scale innovation projects or compensation for losses. EJC will prioritize grant making for small and medium news organizations that support communities most affected by the crisis.

· Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières, RSF) filed a complaint with the UN in mid-April for violations of press freedom during a pandemic. Call on the UN to denounce "States that violate the right to information". RSF found cases of censorship, arbitrary arrests, harassment and violence against journalists, as well as worrisome legislative initiatives in 38 countries, including Brazil, the United States, Algeria, Jordan, Zimbabwe, Hungary, Cambodia and China. The organization asked special rapporteurs on the right to health, Dainius Puras and on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, to take action, with "urgent" appeals seeking to obtain concrete measures.

Impact on the media

· The economic crisis has given rise to negative effects for the media, in particular newspapers, not only by the decrease in the amount of advertising in all the countries but also by the reduction of circulation, affected by lower demand or by distribution restrictions. In some countries, (Chile, Ecuador) delivery trucks have been restricted in some areas, sales places have been shut down and the newsvendors have folded to public health measures.

· In some countries, for example Chile, Bolivia and USA several newspapers have decided to publish only in digital form. In Argentina, circulation fell by 20%.

· The media increased their audiences on digital pages. Several reports and surveys show that the information in the media generates more confidence than the social media. People continue massively using social media, but more than ever seek information in newspaper media.

· Lee Enterprises asked its staff to accept two weeks of unpaid leave over the next three months in his more than 70 newspapers in the USA.

· Ganett, the largest local media group in the US It will cut 25% the salary of executives.

· The Times-Picayune and The Advocate, New Orleans' largest media group, will leave nearly 10% of their staff out of work due to the depression, and C&G Newspapers suspended publication of their 19 print newspapers in the Detroit area.

· El Diario de España cut the highest salaries between 10% and 30%.

· The Republic of Peru also proposed a staggered salary cut among its staff, but there are no layoffs.

· The Iraqi government revoked the license of the Reuters news agency for three months and fined it $ 21,000 for violating the country's media broadcast rules, after publishing in early April a story on the number of cases confirmed from COVID-19, higher than officially reported.

· The publishing house Publiexpress from Argentina fired 93 people and ended the publication of the magazines Pronto, Diario de la Salud, Saber Vivir and Buenas Ideas. It only maintains the digital edition of Pronto, specialized in celebrities.

· El Deber of Santa Cruz de Bolivia removed the paper version of the newspaper from circulation on March 24, it will return to normal after quarantine.

· The newspaper Página Siete de La Paz, Bolivia, interrupted its Sunday edition.

· The printed edition of the newspaper Los Tiempos de Bolivia was distributed free by journalists, photographers and workers of the daily on April 17 in different areas of the city of Cochabamba, after 26 days of being suspended due to quarantine. This was a special edition with information and data on how to deal with the pandemic.

· O Estado de S. Paulo of Brazil announced on April 14 a 25% cut in wages and hours of work from May. A six-month stability guarantee and a health plan are foreseen until the end of the year.

· Editora Globo do Brasil stopped publishing six monthly magazines and they will only be available in digital format.

· The newspaper O Dia, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, announced a 25% reduction in wages and hours of work for all its staff in the newsroom and administrative areas.

· The newspaper Hoje em Dia, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, proposed a salary reduction for its journalists, and the O Tempo newspaper in the same city fired 24 journalists.

· La Discusión de Chillán, Chile, suspended the circulation of its paper edition.

· Grupo Semana of Colombia fired 250 employees (journalists and workers in the administrative and commercial areas) and suspended for 60 days the publication of Arcadia, SoHo, Jet-set, Semana Educación and Semana Sostenible magazines.

· El País of Cali, Colombia, became the first newspaper in the history of that country to take advantage of the Business Reorganization Law, an insolvency process contemplated in Law 1116 of 2006, to preserve companies, avoid bankruptcy and make them viable through the normalization of their commercial and credit relationships. The newspaper's precarious financial situation has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

· The Dallas Morning News and the newspapers that make up the US MediaNews Group announced salary adjustments to their employees to avoid staff cuts.

· The Denver Post, US, fired 13 people from its newsroom.

· McClatchy, owner of 30 US newspapers, announced on April 9th it will furlough 4.4% of its employees, lay off four executives and reduce some executive compensation to address the financial pressures from coronavirus. The company, whose newspapers include the Pulitzer Prize-winning Miami Herald, The Kansas City Star and The Sacramento Bee, employs about 2,700 people, so the plan translates to more than 115 temporary job losses. The reductions will mostly affect McClatchy's advertising department, while the editorial department will be spared.

· Roughly 28,000 workers at news companies in the U.S. have been laid off, been furloughed or had their pay reduced, according to The New York Times.

· BuzzFeed News shuts down AM to DM, its morning news show, after Twitter pulls funding.

· Prensa Libre, Guatemala, asked its workers to voluntarily join a 10% reduction in their wages for two months. The measure will apply to those who earn more than $ 750 a month and under the premise that this would prevent layoffs.

· The Grupo Crónica, Mexico, announced on April 1 the end of its printed editions of La Crónica de Hoy, Crónica Hidalgo and Crónica de Jalisco.\

· El Universal, México, will cut and retain 30% of the monthly salary for the next four months, with the promise of returning it and returning to the full salary percentage from August.

· Forbes México magazine made salary reductions of 50% in the next two months with the promise that it will be returned later.

· Récord, the most influential sports newspaper in Mexico, stopped printing and a digital version available on its website. The salary cuts in this medium range between 10 and 55%.

· Metro Libre, Panamá, sent almost all its staff to work from home, it has not yet made salary adjustments or reduced working hours.

· La Estrella de Panama and Panama America made salary and hourly adjustments for their journalists. Temporary adjustments range from 20% to 30% in wages, in some cases, and in others, reduction of working hours, reaching 30 per fortnight.

· United Kingdom, more than 2,000 staff of national and regional press have temporarily lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. News publishers have been furloughing staff, cutting wages and suspending print titles to cope with collapsing advertising and print sale revenues brought on by the pandemic. In total, more than 500 publications – mainly local and regional newspapers – have made, or face, cuts due to coronavirus, according to Press Gazette.

Strategies of associations

· IAPA: Starting in April, the IAPA opened its Lee Hills Media Center distance learning platform free of charge.

· ICFJ: The International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) launched on March 20 the Global Health Crisis Report Forum. The ICFJ initiative and its network of international journalists, IJNet, brings together and connects journalists, data verifiers and health experts from around the world with the aim of providing the tools and resources necessary to make responsible journalistic coverage of the pandemic.

· RSF: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) launched the Tracker 19 microsite that documents the impact of the pandemic on press freedom, including state censorship and disinformation, and offers recommendations.

· NewsGuild: Representing 25,000 US journalists, called for the creation of a public fund to support newsrooms and media workers and avoid layoffs, along with tax credits and subscription deductions.

· FOPEA: Prepared 10 requests to the national, provincial, and municipal governments of Argentina to improve the quality of public information and contribute to fighting the pandemic.

· The National Geographic Society launched an emergency fund for journalists around the world covering the COVID-19 emergency within their own communities, with grants of between $ 1,000 and $ 8,000.

· ProPublica reporters Robert Faturechi, Ryan Gabrielson and Topher Sanders, and OpenNews program director Sisi Wei, launched microloans for journalists, a program for journalists to lend to other journalists.

· Other resources for journalists: Journalism Relief Fund, journalism aid fund for women journalists, of the International Women's Media Foundation; Freelance Audio Fund for the audio community, from the Association of Independents in Radio, and Freelancers Relief Fund, from the Freelancers Union.