GFMD SUPPORT FOR MEDIA DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY THROUGHOUT COVID-19 CRISIS

Virtual Town Halls

In order to help build a sense of shared community among our network, learn from one another, and support each other during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, GFMD hosted an inaugural informal, members-only Virtual Town Hall on 25 March 2020 via Zoom. Our Virtual Town Hall focused on how to cope with the current COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the wider media development sector. The meeting consisted of more than 50 participants who informally discussed topics ranging from the economic sustainability of media during the crisis and best practices for media organisations, to managing remote work and resources on mental health and stress. A full report from that town hall is available here.

Throughout the first town hall, members expressed concern about the impact of the crisis on the mental health of journalists and media professionals. To address this concern, a second town hall was scheduled for April 14th, which concluded with a mental health workshop. This section of the meeting was led by media development consultant Michelle Betz, Dr. Paul Beighley, Medical Director on the Island of Hawaii for the Adult Mental Health Division, and Executive Director of the Ethical Journalism Network, Hannah Storm. During the workshop, the group discussed tips for alleviating stress while transitioning to remote work, advice on dealing with the trauma caused by the pandemic, and recommendations for management to help their employees look after their mental health. A full report from the event will be available on the GFMD website in the coming days.

A third town hall is being organised for April 28th. Once again, the main focus of the meeting has been selected in response to the concerns voiced by GFMD members. With the pandemic bringing face-to-face training programmes to a temporary halt, media development organisations have been forced to bring their training courses online. This brings about new issues as many media trainers do not have prior experience of providing lessons virtually. In recognition of this, the third town hall will feature a workshop led by media development trainers from around the world who have previous experience of providing online courses and can guide other trainers as they make the virtual transition. Members can now register for this town hall here.

Joint Statement

During the call, the group agreed to publish a joint statement aimed at governments, donors, media organisations, and tech companies in relation to the pandemic and its impact on media/journalism sustainability. We have created a Google doc with an initial draft and set of recommendations here. The statement comes in the form of an urgent appeal to all those in a position to support journalism organisations and independent media during the COVID-19 crisis, especially those who provide professional and essential public-interest reporting. 

Members are invited to add suggestions, comments, and edits to the statement before it is finalised.

Resources

As well as the statement, participants shared useful resources and tools that can help journalists and media organisations deal with the pandemic and its impact on their business, safety, and psychological needs. All of these resources are being compiled by GFMD and can be found here. A list of emergency funds to support journalists and media organisations throughout the crisis is available here. As well as this, we have developed an opportunities hub dedicated solely to funding opportunities for journalists media organisations, many of which have been launched in response to COVID-19.

We are working to constantly update this list and GFMD members are invited to share their own resources in this Google Sheet. A second shared document dedicated specifically to financial resources for journalists is available here.

Webinars

We have continued to host regular member-only webinars throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The webinars remain a forum for members to highlight the various projects taking place within the GFMD network and to learn from one another. The series continued with The Centre for Law and Democracy (CLD), who adapted their webinar topic in response to the crisis. On April 2nd, Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD and Laura Notess, CLD’s Legal Officer, hosted a webinar titled “Right to Information in the Time of COVID-19“. GFMD members are invited to register to host a webinar as part of this series.