Will the Palestinian Press Survive Corona?

PNN/ Bethlehem/

The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms “MADA” issued a report on the difficulties and challenges, the effects and repercussions of the spread of the Corona epidemic on the Palestinian media and press.

The report, titled “Will the Palestinian Press Survive Corona?”, presents the most important economic, material and professional effects that the media are facing, its opportunities to survive and continue to work and fulfill its roles, the fate of hundreds of media workers, and the implications and effects of all this on the profession and the role of the press.

The report focused on two main interconnected threats that the Palestinian media faced as a result of the spread of the epidemic, the accompanying measures and imposition of the emergency. The first threat is related to the material aspect and the ability of the private / independent media to continue to work and pay the salaries of its employees, in light of its reliance on commercial advertisements and sponsorships that has stopped or retreated very significantly over the past months and is still threatening dozens of private / independent media outlets by shutting down or laying off staff.

While the second threat is more profound and dangerous in its subsequent or far-reaching repercussions, and it is related to the decline or the disappearance of pluralism from the general media landscape in Palestine, where the closure (which mainly threatens the private / independent media) will lead to confining the media scene to a single-color press, specifically regarding the official and partisan media (guaranteed funding), and the consequent (absence of pluralism) of weakening the expected role of the press in contributing to the consolidation of democracy and the defense of human rights.

Director General of “MADA”, Moussa Rimawi, stressed the need for donors and social media companies to provide assistance to the Palestinian media, which is facing very difficult conditions, where “MADA” Center is also following up the matter. “MADA” sent a message on 19/4/2020 to Facebook Company and in it demanded that a specific part of the “Facebook Press Project”, which is devoted to supporting media and media professionals in the world, to assist the independent Palestinian media.

Moreover, Rimawi expressed that MADA’s support for the demands of independent media in exempting them from fees paid to the government, taxes for the current year 2020, and adopting a fair distribution mechanism for government announcements, to include the various media. Rimawi added the that support for the Palestinian media acquires special importance in this difficult period, so that the Palestinian citizen can obtain reliable information, especially in light of the spread of rumors and misleading news, as it promotes pluralism and freedom of expression in Palestine.

The report refers to the state of emergency and the accompanying closures and measures, and the consequences of the spread of the epidemic at various levels, and the implications of this for the performance of the press, which chose to rely heavily on the official source to obtain its information.

Similarly, the report included a set of interviews conducted with a number of journalists / representatives of the Palestinian media about their vision of what they faced while covering the pandemic and the general events during this period, the challenges and difficulties faced by their institutions and the general Palestinian media, and what could be done to prevent the collapse of many independent media outlets.