What you need to know:
- Credible journalism is critical if we are to have informed debates about a post-pandemic world.
- In the face of the Covid-19 outbreak, audiences have been turning to professional journalists like never before.
Over 150 newsrooms globally will today to mark World News Day. This, however, is not an occasion for journalists to pat ourselves on the back for the work we do but rather focus on how we go about reporting on issues that matter to our audiences.
In the face of the Covid-19 outbreak, audiences have been turning to professional journalists like never before. They want answers on how to stay safe and safeguard their jobs.
They need help separating fact from fiction, amid the ‘pandemic’ of fake news that has also gone viral. They are looking to people they can trust to help them join the dots.
At a time when so much has been turned on its head, this much has become clear: Real news matters. The truth matters. Objectivity matters. Balance and fairness matter. In short, quality journalism matters.
These are hallmarks of professional newsrooms. These newsrooms strive to tell the stories that matter to the communities they serve.
In March, the Brazilian media group 100 Fronteiras told the story of the trauma caused by the sudden closing of the International Friendship Bridge between the towns of Ciudad del Este in Paraguay and Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil.
On the other side of the earth, a similar story of separation and loss was playing out. In my hometown, Singapore, the land-bridge called the Causeway that many use to cross into Johor Bahru in Malaysia, also had to be shut down to stem the spread of the virus. Their stories were told in The Straits Times.
In the face of a global pandemic, our common humanity also rang out in stories of courage and hope which many newsrooms recounted. In a special report in February, “On the frontlines of the coronavirus”, we profiled the doctors, nurses and officers in Singapore who were fighting the virus.
Likewise, The Canadian Press traced a patient’s harrowing journey from emergency room to Intensive Care Unit and finally to recovery and rehabilitation.
Newsrooms have been bringing these stories to our audiences, not only to inform and educate, but also to inspire and uplift communities. Covid-19 has reminded us of many things we had taken for granted: The importance of good governance, the value of trust in leaders and institutions, and the solace and strength that families and communities provide. It has also highlighted the critical role that a credible and reliable media plays in our societies.
Ironically, the pandemic has also posed an existential threat to many newsrooms. While audiences have surged, revenues and resources have plunged, making it harder for journalists to work.
World News Day is an opportunity for us to ponder why this matters. Real News matters if we are to make sense of the bewildering developments around us.
Credible journalism is critical if we are to have informed debates about a post-pandemic world. That is why the success and sustainability of the media matters, now more than ever, to us all.