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 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.

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

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. 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.

A second town hall is being organised for GFMD members on April 14th. Full details and a registration link will be shared here, on GFMD’s Twitter and Facebook, and on our members’ mailing list.

Throughout the virtual town hall, we will continue to informally discuss how organisations and staff are dealing with disruptions and uncertainty caused by COVID-19, try to understand the issues you are facing that range from economic sustainability to managing remote work, and learn from one another how we can all weather this crisis together. A section of the Town Hall will be dedicated to specifically discussing the impact of the current crisis on the mental well-being of journalists and media professionals. This will range from the mental toll of transitioning to working from home to the stress and trauma caused by covering the pandemic.