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MADA center issues a study on the impact of the Corona pandemic on the independence and pluralism of the Palestinian media

Also produced a documentary about the pandemic and its impact on the media

 

Ramallah - (03/10/2021) - The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms "MADA" issued a study on "the impact of the Corona pandemic on the independence and pluralism of the media in Palestine", which dealt with the period between the onset of the epidemic in Palestine and the issuance of a state of emergency decree by President Mahmoud Abbas in March 2020 until June 2021.

The study based -in one of its tools- on in-depth interviews with a group of journalists and directors of media institutions, showed that the main role of the Palestinian media focuses on preventive awareness and health education, and that the respondents agreed that what the Palestinian media did on this level was distinguished, even though the Palestinian media have lost their relative influence on society and the institutions of the authority, compared to social media, which had a greater influence and role.

The study pointed to the importance of the role of "crisis media" in awareness, guidance and evaluation processes, noting the positive role played by the media in light of the pandemic in preventing the spread of misleading news and false information.

The study indicated that prior to the pandemic, the Palestinian media enjoyed a limited amount of independence and pluralism, but it was better compared to the period of the spread of the Corona pandemic, especially during the first phase (the first three months) of the spread of the virus and the declaration of a state of emergency, when the media turned into a tool to publish news and information issued by the government. The sample interviewed further believed that the independence of the media in relation to editorial policy was not affected by the pandemic, despite the presence of indications that media content was affected.

The study also highlighted the extent of depth of self-censorship practiced by journalists during this period, which constituted the most important factor affecting the independence of the media, and become an actual practice for many professionals in the Palestinian media. In addition to the impact of the interference of political authorities and economic companies in the editorial policies of many media outlets.

The study concluded that the impact of the spread of the Corona pandemic on the Palestinian media was mainly represented in the erosion of their financial resources, as a result of stopping advertisements by companies and institutions, on which the media outlets depend in whole or in part.

So, it recommended working to provide a safety network for the media, ensuring the continuity of their work, in a way that does not harm their professionalism, contributing to the development of their content, maintaining the independence and pluralism, and adhering to the profession’s principles.

MADA Center also produced a documentary film titled "Media and the Repercussions of the Corona Virus", which sheds light on the crisis that faced the Palestinian media as a result of the spread of the Corona virus nearly two years ago, which had negative repercussions on journalists and the media alike.

According to what the film showed, the financial crisis experienced by the media outlets had a significant impact on employers, as these outlets were forced to reduce the number of their employees and/or end their work contracts, or in the best cases reduce the salaries of some of them, after the financial resources of these institutions decreased. In addition, some journalists preferred to resign from their jobs as a result of increased restrictions on them, like happened with 11 journalists from Ajyal Radio.

Although the crisis facing the Palestinian media is not new, the spread of the Corona virus had the greatest impact in further deepening it, and again placing the Palestinian media in the face of hardships.

It is worth mentioning that the production of the documentary film and the study was funded by the Open Society Foundations (OSF) within a project to promote freedom of expression in the West Bank.

Link to watch the documentary:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlmwzY9h-zM

Link to read the full study:

https://www.madacenter.org/article/1749/