In times of extraordinary crisis, governments often take the opportunity to roll back on personal freedoms and media freedom. The public’s right to know can be severely reduced with little democratic process. Index has tracked this history, and has many examples published in our archive which covers the years 1972 to today. Index is already being alerted to attacks and violations against the media in the current coronavirus related crisis, as well as other alarming news pertaining to privacy and freedoms.

We have grave concerns about this and we know that once these freedoms are eroded they are hard to get back. We therefore see raising awareness of any attacks at this time as of paramount importance. We have already written about what happened in China in the early stages of the outbreak in relation to reporting there.

Our map reports on the detention or arrest of journalists and physical attacks. It also covers the introduction of new legislation or changes to existing laws that threaten to stop journalists from doing their jobs and social media restrictions that threaten the free reporting of information.

We also feature situations where governments have implemented laws to stop the spread of “fake news”  – an idea that may sound sensible but sets up governments as the final arbiters of what is true and what is not.

The incidents reported on this map represent those which our team have verified. We receive reports of incidents from members of the public, our correspondents from around the world and our own in-house team. We then research these reports to verify the veracity and circumstances surrounding the incident and, during this process, some of these incidents are found not to be what they seem and are not added to the map. Sometimes the verification process is lengthy because the subject is under arrest or independent accounts are hard to secure. Our small team is working as fast as it can to add verified events to the map.

Exploring the map

Each attack on media freedom is represented by a coronavirus icon in our map below. They are colour coded according to the type of incident, as shown in the key here.

To see further details of an incident, click on the virus icon and a window will pop up.

You can also browse the most recent incidents in the list below the map.

If you know of an attack on media freedom during this crisis, please use this form to report it.

You can also choose to view only those incidents by category, using the ‘Filter by’ dropdown below.

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We have created this monitoring map, in conjunction with Justice for Journalists Foundation, to track media violations during the coronavirus crisis. JFJ funds journalistic investigations into violent crimes against media workers and helps professional and citizen journalists to mitigate their risks.  JFJ’s mission is to facilitate journalists’ access to existing resources and make them relevant to the specifics of each region. It believes security is the essential basis for work in the media. It helps journalists acquire the skills and knowledge to address their professional challenges.

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