THE Covid-19 pandemic virus continues to blanket the global community with an air of anxiety and uncertainty, free information remains essential and vital to help communities face, ponder, and overcome this crisis.
It must be acknowledged the dissemination of true information is of vital importance informing the public of the means how to combat the illness and adopting correct practices.
“The infodemic of misinformation and rumours is exacerbating the pandemic and putting lives at risk,” UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said in her statement in conjunction with World Press Freedom Day on May 3.
The world body has embarked on social media campaigns – Together For Facts, Science and Solidarity and Don’t Go Viral – in their attempt to put an end to this problem.
“To boost these initiatives, UNESCO has created a Covid-19 resource centre for the media.
“The online platform helps journalists track false information regarding the pandemic.
“Journalists would be able to report on the crisis reliably and effectively,” her statement read.
The theme of World Press Freedom Day 2020 – Journalism Without Fear or Favour – affirms the UNESCO initiative.
The ongoing crisis is increasing the economic uncertainty of journalists as evident in the transition to digital technology.
Publications depend on advertising revenue which is decreasing or plummeting, and this would see newspapers reduce or cease operations.
“In a world as profoundly interdependent as this crisis has shown ours to be, diversity, freedom, and safety of journalists concerns all,” Azoulays’s statement read.
“At this crucial moment, and for our future, we need a free press and journalists need to be able to count on us all.”
In conjunction with World Press Freedom Day, Colombian investigative journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima has been named as the laureate of the 2020 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.


Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima to receive 2020 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize – Courtesy picture UNESCO

Born in 1974, Jineth Bedoya Lima’s reporting has focused on the armed conflict and peace process in Colombia and on sexual violence against women. 

Bedoya Lima was herself a victim of sexual violence in 2000 when she was abducted and raped in connection with an investigation into arms trafficking she was conducting for the daily newspaper El Espectador. 


Three years later, while working for the daily El Tiempo, she was kidnapped by militants of the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

“The courage and commitment of Jineth Bedoya Lima, doubly exposed to unacceptable risks as a woman and as a journalist, inspire profound respect,” Zoulay said.

“We need the work of professional and independent journalists.

“The present pandemic highlights the vital role journalists play in providing all of us with access to reliable, in some cases vital, the information in crisis situations,” Azoulay added.

“It also shows the many risks journalists face everywhere in the world in the exercise of their profession.

“In attributing the Press Freedom Prize to Jineth Bedoya Lima, the Jury recognizes and supports her outstanding courage and untiring commitment to uncovering issues of fundamental importance to society,” President of the Jury Giselle Khoury said. 

The UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize is awarded annually on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, celebrated on 3 May.

This year’s Prize-giving ceremony and the main conference on freedom of the press which was scheduled to take place in The Hague in cooperation with the Government of the Netherlands was postponed due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The $25,000 prize recognises a person, organisation or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to the defence or promotion of press freedom, especially in the face of danger. 

It is funded by the Guillermo Cano Isaza Foundation (Colombia), the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation (Finland) and the Namibia Media Trust and is awarded annually.

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