“Now More Than Ever It Is Necessary To Study Every Expenditure Of The Government”

The coronavirus epidemic has created a whole new reality that the whole world is trying to adapt to. Journalists play a big role in this situation. How can the media and journalists overcome the challenges facing them? What should journalists around the world do during and after the epidemic?

David Bloss, South Caucasus Regional Editor of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, recommends that healthcare coverage be a priority.

And especially these days, keep the focus on and pay attention to every expense of the government.

And use interviews to get information, not for emotions.

The most common expression, especially of politicians, is that we must learn to live with the coronavirus. How can this situation affect journalism, from the collection and dissemination of information to its moderation on social media?

I think the biggest challenge for journalists is to realize that healthcare coverage should be a priority.

This means asking questions about the readiness and responsibility of scientists and officials before the health crisis strikes while developing resources at the same time.

This means sending enough inquiries before the health crisis to get a true picture of the industry’s readiness to have a starting point in all articles as soon as the crisis begins.

You need to know the people who are important and the numbers that are important.

What are the possible positive and negative changes for journalists in this situation?

On the positive side, the number of media users is growing at an unprecedented rate, and the media, which enjoys the trust of most readers and viewers, has the potential to maintain this level of high performance.

Many media markets can work to attract advertising revenue from the healthcare sector.

The downside is that countries can declare a state of emergency and conduct procurement without a tender or a single bid, avoiding media and public scrutiny.

States of emergency can last longer than the danger to public health.

Contrary to the warnings of health professionals that humanity is dealing with a dangerous virus (due to its rapid spread), there are a group of people who are skeptical and do not believe in trying to solve the problem. Conspiracy theories abound. How can journalists overcome this problem, given the unavailability of certain information?

Never accept restrictions on access to information.

When access is restricted, tell the audience the names of people who are hiding information so that the public knows who they are.

There is not enough time and resources to refute the theory of each conspiracy, getting involved in such discussions is a waste of time and resources.

In response to conspiracy theories that do exist in the realm of public debate, a brief, unbiased account of scientific commentary and reliable data is sufficient.

It is important to focus on what is happening, not on the non-existent.

Do you see the risks of non-reporting and misrepresentation by states that investigative journalists usually study and prevent?

The amount of money spent and the changes in the economy are shocking all over the world.

It has never been so important for governments to monitor spending. Do expenses save lives? Is the money being wasted or stolen, thus harming economies that are already on the verge of collapse?

What threats do you see for investigative journalists in the epidemic and post-epidemic periods? For example, how can restrictions on the free movement of journalists, lack of face-to-face contact with sources of information, as well as the establishment of a state of emergency by which the state controls the media and restricts free speech, affect the work of the media?

These are all threats. Journalists must demand the protection of the right to freedom of movement while maintaining the rules of safety for both themselves and those who transmit their information.

Journalists need to emphasize that the public needs and demands transparent information, and that part of the coverage should be to point out people who are hiding information.

Continue to send inquiries and do not consider the state of emergency as an excuse for unanswered questions.

Officials can provide this information by working from home.

When information is received online, do journalists miss anything important?

Face-to-face communication is the best option because non-verbal communication provides an opportunity to deepen the topic. But online video interviews can often show non-verbal behavior.

More attention should be paid to getting reliable data on time. No interview is in favor of illness or death.

Use interviews for information, not emotions.

Interview by Ani Nazaryan (Student of the Caucasus School of Multimedia Journalism and Media Management, Georgian Institute of Public Relations (GIPA))

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