The Covid-19 pandemic highlights the basic need for reliable, credible information in a major crisis. In this context, the social role of journalism is more crucial than ever, but practising this profession is even more difficult. This is the topic of the fifth issue of our biannual publication, "Mediation".
One of the basic needs in the face of the global spread of the Covid-19 disease is access by as many people as possible to reliable, credible, unbiased and understandable information on all aspects of such a crisis. The first need is for public service, medical and health information on the virus and how to protect oneself from it. It is a question of informing, but also of countering the disinformation that is spreading faster than the virus. At the same time, there is also a need to understand the social, political and economic consequences of the pandemic. For journalists, this means being able to question the authorities about their choices and the implementation of their decisions.
Can the journalist continue to "dip the pen in the wound" in times of crisis? How can the right balance be struck between emergency information, public service information, "constructive" information and uncompromising investigations into the responses of the governments and administrations concerned? This mission of journalism is always valid. But it is even more necessary, and all the more difficult to implement in times of crisis. In the first half of 2020, for example, press freedom was under attack in many parts of the world under the guise of a health emergency, even in democracies that were thought to be firmly committed to their principles (see boxes on page 3).
The pandemic poses a threat to the health of each and every one of us, but also to our resources and our ability to live together harmoniously. Such global and local issues and concerns may explain why the demand for information has never been greater worldwide (see figures on page 4). This essential need to be informed is a daily need felt by populations facing local or global crises with which Fondation Hirondelle has been working for a quarter of a century now. As Fondation Hirondelle celebrated its 25th anniversary in March, we present in this issue our reflections, together with those of leading media like The Guardian, on the vital role of journalism in times of crisis.