The Role of the Haitian Press in the Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

On World Press Freedom Day on May 3, 2020, the UNESCO office in Port-au-Prince held a week of activities to draw attention to the role of the press, especially in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

“Journalism without fear or complacency”, it is around this theme that the various activities took place as part of the commemoration of the World Press Freedom Day in Haiti, at a time when the Office of UNESCO in Port-au-Prince is more than ever committed to supporting the press sector, whose role is undeniable in the response to COVID-19.

Haiti fell 21 places in the 2020 world press freedom ranking, produced by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). This reveals the need for all actors concerned to work tirelessly to strengthen the safety of journalists. Indeed, UNESCO took the opportunity to salute the memory of all journalists who have been victims of their profession or simply because of their status as journalists.

In her speech for the occasion, the representative of UNESCO underlined the efforts of the Organization in the fight for a free, but also responsible press. Ms. Alvarez-Laso insisted on the need for journalists to base their work on facts, to promote responsible journalism, essential to face the crisis in the current context of the coronavirus pandemic.

For his part, the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System, Mr. Bruno Lemarquis recalled that the COVID-19 pandemic gave birth to another pandemic, just as worrying, and which is spreading much more quickly: the infodemic. For Mr. Lemarquis, the press must be part of the solution to this phenomenon, by providing verified information based on facts.

During Press Freedom Week, the UNESCO office in Port-au-Prince invited all journalists to take part in the webinar on “Journalism in a Time of Pandemic”. A discussion with several media representatives and journalists was organized online, followed by a high-level meeting with key decision-makers, including the Minister and Secretary of State for Communications.

UNESCO believes that a free press should be one that is equipped, trained, and responsible. It will continue to favor innovative partnerships with all sectors because every threat or attack against freedom of the press must be a matter of concern for all. For today and tomorrow, our society needs a free, independent, and responsible press.

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