Special Issue "Media Freedom in the Age of COVID-19"

A special issue of Journalism and Media (ISSN 2673-5172).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2021) | Viewed by 19694

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. María Luisa Humanes
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Communication Sciences and Sociology, Faculty of Communication Sciences, University Rey Juan Carlos, 28943 Fuenlabrada, Madrid, Spain
Interests: journalism; political communication; news consumption
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In times of crisis, uncertainty and changes, information becomes an essential social good. This has been the case throughout history, and also during the current Covid-19 pandemic. Organizations such as Reporters Without Borders, Freedom House, Index on Censorship, International Center for Non-Profit Law (ICNL), or the European Center for Non-Profit Law have alerted the public to limitations and threats to press freedom since the start of the pandemic in all kinds of political regimes around the world. For example, Reporters Without Borders' Tracker-19 tool has monitored the impact of the pandemic on journalism, finding attacks on media freedom in 64 countries, ranging from censorship, persecution, and criticism to journalists and media to set limitations on access to press conferences, restrict questions, and refuse follow-up questions. At the same time, the consumption of news has substantially increased during the crisis, and in some countries citizens hold positive views of the news coverage of the Covid-19 (Reuters, 2020, Casero-Ripollés, 2020). This paradoxical situation—evidence of the problems to report on the coronavirus and the increase in news consumption—highlights the need to empirically and critically analyze how the pandemic has affected media freedom, as well as the resulting consequences for quality of news content, which citizens receive.  

Themes to be addressed in this Special Issue of Journalism and Media:

  • Censorship and State control of information during the pandemic
  • Disinformation and Covid-19 infodemic
  • The right of access to information during the Covid-19 crisis
  • Trust for news on coronavirus
  • Ethical limits and self-censorship in news coverage of coronavirus
  • Impact of limitations on press freedom in journalistic practice
  • Information quality in Covid-19 news coverage

Prof. Dr. María Luisa Humanes
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Journalism and Media is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • media freedom
  • Covid-19
  • censorship
  • access to information
  • disinformation
  • journalistic practice
  • information quality
  • ethical limits

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Article
Reporting Strategy and Gender Perspective in Chinese Media Coverage of COVID-19 News
Journal. Media. 2021, 2(3), 351-360; https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia2030021 - 01 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1546
Abstract
This article examines the reporting strategy and gender perspective in Chinese media coverage of COVID-19 news. The article employs a mixed-method approach to analyze news reports, using quantitative statistics and qualitative semantic materials that complement each other. The study found that the media [...] Read more.
This article examines the reporting strategy and gender perspective in Chinese media coverage of COVID-19 news. The article employs a mixed-method approach to analyze news reports, using quantitative statistics and qualitative semantic materials that complement each other. The study found that the media construct a stereotypical image of female healthcare workers absent from public participation. Media reports on the actual number of female healthcare workers involved in treating COVID-19 patients are lower than those about men. Reports focusing exclusively on female staff tend to focus on their private affairs, that is, on their non-professional identities and characteristics, and show an excessive gaze on the female body. To understand this phenomenon prevailing in Chinese media, it is necessary to highlight the predicament of Chinese women in society as well as acknowledge the work of contemporary Chinese feminism in raising awareness on Chinese women’s experiences. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Media Freedom in the Age of COVID-19)
Article
Kindness and Control: The Political Leadership of Jacinda Ardern in the Aotearoa New Zealand COVID-19 Media Conferences
Journal. Media. 2021, 2(2), 288-304; https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia2020017 - 11 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2934
Abstract
Aotearoa New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s management of COVID-19 media conferences demonstrated a complex negotiation of expressions of ‘kindness’ and political ‘control’ as Ardern sought to unify the national public and implement a national emergency that closed the border and suspended civil [...] Read more.
Aotearoa New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s management of COVID-19 media conferences demonstrated a complex negotiation of expressions of ‘kindness’ and political ‘control’ as Ardern sought to unify the national public and implement a national emergency that closed the border and suspended civil liberties and freedom of movement. This article considers the distinctive positive leadership style of Ardern while also demonstrating the ways it is grounded in the exigencies of the political field. A critical reading of Ardern’s media conference answers reveals four nominated categories: positive assertions, management of conflict/disagreement, delineation of politician role/responsibility, and political evasion. The four categories map the terrain of agreement and disagreement and they locate the subject position of the politician on that terrain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Media Freedom in the Age of COVID-19)
Article
Closed Churches during the Pandemic: Liberal versus Conservative and Christian versus Atheist Argumentation in Media
Journal. Media. 2021, 2(2), 225-243; https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia2020013 - 18 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 805
Abstract
The current COVID-19 pandemic has led to the introduction of various epidemiological measures, including the ban on public worship. The problem of closed churches has become an intensely debated subject across several countries and a hotly debated question in recent media discourse. This [...] Read more.
The current COVID-19 pandemic has led to the introduction of various epidemiological measures, including the ban on public worship. The problem of closed churches has become an intensely debated subject across several countries and a hotly debated question in recent media discourse. This paper provides an analysis of the arguments presented on the subject of closed churches by the media in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. In addition to the detailed analysis of the argumentation used, it also presents a twofold comparison: arguments presented in liberal versus conservative media, and arguments presented in the Slovak media versus Czech media. Twenty-eight years ago, these two countries were part of one state and after the split, the countries became a model of a peaceful dissolution (the so-called ‘velvet divorce’). However, from a religious perspective, they are quite different: whereas Slovakia is one of the most Christian (Catholic) countries, the Czech Republic is one of the most atheist countries in Europe. Three research dimensions are presented as part of this study: (1) media argumentation on the problem of closed churches; (2) comparison of liberal versus conservative arguments; (3) comparison of the media coverage in a strongly Christian country versus a strongly atheist country. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Media Freedom in the Age of COVID-19)
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Article
COVID-19-Related Social Media Fake News in India
Journal. Media. 2021, 2(1), 100-114; https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia2010007 - 16 Mar 2021
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 6818
Abstract
COVID-19-related online fake news poses a threat to Indian public health. In response, this study seeks to understand the five important features of COVID-19-related social media fake news by analyzing 125 Indian fake news. The analysis produces five major findings based on five [...] Read more.
COVID-19-related online fake news poses a threat to Indian public health. In response, this study seeks to understand the five important features of COVID-19-related social media fake news by analyzing 125 Indian fake news. The analysis produces five major findings based on five research questions. First, the seven themes of fake news are health, religiopolitical, political, crime, entertainment, religious, and miscellaneous. Health-related fake news (67.2%) is on the top of the list that includes medicine, medical and healthcare facilities, viral infection, and doctor-patient issues. Second, the seven types of fake news contents are text, photo, audio, video, text and photo, text and video, and text and photo and video. More fake news takes the form of text and video (47.2%). Third, online media produces more fake news (94.4%) than mainstream media (5.6%). More interestingly, four social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube, produce most of the fake news. Fourth, relatively more fake news has international connections (54.4%) as the COVID-19 pandemic is a global phenomenon. Fifth, most of the COVID-19-related fake news is negative (63.2%) which could be a real threat to public health. These results may contribute to the academic understanding of social media fake news during the present and future health-crisis period. This paper concludes by stating some limitations regarding the data source and results, as well as provides a few suggestions for further research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Media Freedom in the Age of COVID-19)
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Article
The Role of Public Trust and Media in Managing the Dissemination of COVID-19-Related News in Switzerland
Journal. Media. 2020, 1(1), 145-158; https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia1010010 - 17 Dec 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1853
Abstract
Public trust in health information is essential to ensure that preventative strategies to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 are accepted and followed. This study explored the way Swiss people accessed and consumed news and information about the coronavirus from different channels, and the [...] Read more.
Public trust in health information is essential to ensure that preventative strategies to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 are accepted and followed. This study explored the way Swiss people accessed and consumed news and information about the coronavirus from different channels, and the role media plays in public trust during the pandemic. Based on a study of 442 randomly assigned participants in French-speaking regions, we examined the following four questions: (1) What are the news sources and platforms and how are they used? (2) How does the public rate the trustworthiness of these sources and platforms? (3) To what extent does the public perceive that these sources and platforms are provided inaccurate information? (4) What roles do these sources and platforms play in the pandemic? Implications are discussed in the conclusion based on our findings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Media Freedom in the Age of COVID-19)
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Article
Media and Misinformation in Times of COVID-19: How People Informed Themselves in the Days Following the Portuguese Declaration of the State of Emergency
Journal. Media. 2020, 1(1), 108-121; https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia1010008 - 02 Dec 2020
Cited by 17 | Viewed by 2129
Abstract
This study takes as a starting point the importance and dependence of the media to obtain information about the pandemic. The dependency theory of the media system was developed in the 1970s when mass media were the dominant source of information. Today, at [...] Read more.
This study takes as a starting point the importance and dependence of the media to obtain information about the pandemic. The dependency theory of the media system was developed in the 1970s when mass media were the dominant source of information. Today, at a time when media choices have become abundant, studies are needed to understand the phenomenon of media dependence in light of new dimensions made important by the transformations that have taken place in the social and media fields—where the coexistence of mass media with social media platforms stands out. As large-scale crises rarely occur and the media environment changes rapidly, it is important to analyze how media dependence relates to choose and trust in different media (traditional media vs. social media) in times of crisis. Several questions arise. What is the trust attributed by individuals to social media as sources of information about COVID-19? How well informed are the individuals who choose these sources as the main sources of information? From a questionnaire administered to 244 individuals in Portugal, during the first week of the state of emergency (March 2020), this research seeks to identify how people gained access to information about COVID-19, how they acted critically towards the various sources and how they assess the reliability of different media. Finally, it analyzes the association between the type of medium chosen and adherence to misinformation content about the virus. The results reveal the existence of a phenomenon of dependence on the media, with a strong exposure (both active and accidental) to informative content, with conventional media being privileged as the main source, and positively distinguished in terms of confidence. Finally, a statistically significant association of a positive sign was identified between the use of social media as the main source and the acceptance of misinformation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Media Freedom in the Age of COVID-19)
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Review

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Review
Saving Lives and Changing Minds with Twitter in Disasters and Pandemics: A Literature Review
Journal. Media. 2020, 1(1), 59-77; https://doi.org/10.3390/journalmedia1010005 - 19 Nov 2020
Viewed by 1643
Abstract
Twitter is a major tool for communication during emergencies and disasters. This study aimed to investigate Twitter use during natural hazards and pandemics. The included studies reported the role of Twitter in disasters triggered by natural hazards. Electronic databases were used for a [...] Read more.
Twitter is a major tool for communication during emergencies and disasters. This study aimed to investigate Twitter use during natural hazards and pandemics. The included studies reported the role of Twitter in disasters triggered by natural hazards. Electronic databases were used for a comprehensive literature search to identify the records that match the mentioned inclusion criteria published through May 2020. Forty-five articles met the selection criteria and were included in the review. These indicated ten functions of Twitter in disasters, including early warning, dissemination of information, advocacy, assessment, risk communication, public sentiment, geographical analysis, charity, collaboration with influencers and building trust. Preventing the spread of misinformation is one of the most important issues in times of disaster, especially pandemics. Sharing accurate, transparent and prompt information from emergency organizations and governments can help. Moreover, analyzing Twitter data can be a good way to understand the mental state of the community, estimate the number of injured people, estimate the points affected by disasters and model the prevalence of epidemics. Therefore, various groups such as politicians, government, nongovernmental organizations, aid workers and the health system can use this information to plan and implement interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Media Freedom in the Age of COVID-19)
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