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Impact of COVID-19 on media development and journalism conferences

Author: Olga Komarova | 9. March 2020

The spread of COVID-19 has had a major impact on travel and public gatherings internationally. At the time of writing, cases of COVID-19 have been detected in over 100 countries resulting in the banning of mass public gatherings in several countries throughout Europe and Asia.

With that, it is unsurprising that several major media development and journalism events have been cancelled or postponed for the foreseeable future. Below is a list of events relevant to the media development community that have been cancelled, postponed, restructured, rescheduled, or relocated as a result of COVID-19’s spread, each accompanied by a statement from the events’ organisers:

64th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women – Restructured

“The Commission decided that the 64th session of the Commission will convene on 9 March, at 10.00 a.m. (EST), for a procedural meeting. The meeting will include opening statements, followed by the adoption of the draft Political Declaration and action on any other draft resolutions. The session will then suspend until further notification. No general debate will take place and all side events planned by Member States and the UN system in conjunction with CSW64 will be cancelled.”

Full statement here.

International Journalism Festival – Cancelled

“The International Journalism Festival has been cancelled (not postponed) due to public health concerns. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this decision. The safety of festival speakers, attendees, volunteers, staff, suppliers as well as that of the citizens of Perugia is our top priority. The 2021 festival will take place in Perugia from 14-18 April.”

More here.

International SBCC Summit – Postponed

“As you are all aware, COVID-19 is continuing to spread in new places across the globe. Given the latest WHO guidance, the unpredictable nature of the virus and the growing number of travel restrictions in place, the Secretariat has made the extremely difficult decision to postpone this month’s 2020 International Social and Behavior Change Communication Summit in Morocco.” 

A full statement is available here.

EU DisinfoLab 2020 Annual Conference – Postponed

“It is with sadness that we have to announce the postponement of our conference held 5-6 May due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. The conference will now be hosted between 29-30 September in Brussels, Belgium.”

Full statement here.

IAMCR 2020 – Relocated

“The unfortunate and difficult situation resulting from the coronavirus Covid-19 has forced us to reconsider our plans and we have jointly agreed not to hold IAMCR 2020 in Beijing.

IAMCR’s Executive Board and International Council have also accepted a highly suitable offer to host the conference at Tampere University in Tampere, Finland, for the same dates, 12-16 July 2020.”

Full details about the relocation can be found here.

Free European Media 2020 – Cancelled

“It is with great sadness that we decided today to cancel the Conference in Gdansk.

Due to the increased outbreak of the coronavirus and after a consultation today with the EU Commission and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), the EFJ decided to cancel the Free European Media 2020 conference in Gdansk.

We apologise for the inconvenience of this late cancellation, justified by the worsening of the situation and the increased precautionary measures announced by several States and airlines.”

Full statement here.

Digital Services Act Conference 2020 – Postponed

As a result of the evolving Covid-19 situation and the uncertainty over the public health implications, we have taken the decision to postpone this conference, which was due to take place on 24th March in Brussels.
We will publish details of the revised date in due course, but in the meantime, we appreciate your understanding given the current circumstances.”

Full statement here.

World Press Freedom Day Conference – Postponed

“In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, in close consultation with UNESCO, has decided to postpone the World Press Freedom Conference 2020. The organizers’ main concern is to guarantee the health of everyone involved and ensure a high level of attendance from stakeholders around the world.

UNESCO and The Netherlands had planned to hold the World Press Freedom Conference (WPFC) from 22 to 24 April at the World Forum in The Hague. The conference is now scheduled for 18 to 20 October at the same venue. It will be a joint celebration of World Press Freedom Day (3 May) and the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists (2 November).”

Full announcement here.

RightsCon 2020 – Postponed

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce our decision to postpone RightsCon Costa Rica until 2021. The health and safety of RightsCon participants, staff, partners, and their communities has been and continues to be our number one priority. Given the rapidly expanding scale and impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we believe postponing this year’s event is the only responsible and practical path forward.”

Full statement here.

This list will be updated as more events are impacted by COVID-19. If you have information about other events affected by the virus, please get in touch here.


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