Media showcases role in helping to tackle Covid-19 crisis

Over 150 newsrooms highlight how credible media made an impact during the pandemic

(From left) ST editor Warren Fernandez, ST correspondent Yeo Sam Jo, ST Asia News Network editor Shefali Rekhi and ST's Singapore editor Zakir Hussain speaking at a seminar during World News Day, on Sept 28, 2020.
(From left) ST editor Warren Fernandez, ST correspondent Yeo Sam Jo, ST Asia News Network editor Shefali Rekhi and ST's Singapore editor Zakir Hussain speaking at a seminar during World News Day, on Sept 28, 2020.ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

As the coronavirus rages, the young in Asia did not sit still.

In China, community youth leader Xie Shang Wei helped to deliver food to the elderly poor living in Harbin city. In Indonesia, undergraduates of Bogor Agricultural University distributed masks to villagers in rural communities.

Their efforts and those of four other groups from Singapore were featured in a video screened at a webinar yesterday to showcase how young adults went to the aid of victims of the virus.

It was produced by the National Youth Achievement Award Council and Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS).

Its screening was part of this year's World News Day, with more than 150 media titles from across the globe coming together to mark the occasion with special reports, interviews, webinars, shows and more.

Among those taking part were the Financial Times in the United Kingdom; The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times from the United States; The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia; The Chosun Ilbo in South Korea; and South China Morning Post in Hong Kong.

The day kicked off in Asia, where newsrooms from the Philippines to Indonesia to South Korea joined in with editorials and events. These would continue through the day as newsrooms around the world joined in across time zones.

In Singapore, a webinar, titled Covid-19: How Can You Contribute?, was live-streamed from the newsroom of Singapore's national broadsheet, The Straits Times .

In his opening remarks, Mr Warren Fernandez, editor of ST and president of the World Editors Forum, stressed the media's role in informing the masses and debunking fake news, especially during the current pandemic.

"The world around us is getting more and more complex, it's fast moving and fast changing. I think all of us could do with a little bit of help figuring things out and staying on top of developments, of separating the facts from the fiction, of helping to join the dots and sort of interpreting where we are today and where things are moving tomorrow."

This becomes absolutely critical particularly in the current Covid-19 situation, added Mr Fernandez, who is also editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings' English/ Malay/Tamil Media Group.

 
 
 
 

Newsrooms have to step up to help people make sense of what current events mean for their lives and livelihoods, and provide credible information to help them stay safe and secure.

But quality journalism, he added, is neither free nor cheap. It takes hard work, commitment and resources, he added, noting that Covid-19 has hit many newsrooms hard, with sharp falls in advertising revenues. This would impact their ability to serve their communities.

During the webinar, two panel discussions explored how journalists are tackling the pandemic.

The first focused on the ongoing "infodemic"during the pandemic, with its surge of misinformation.

In the second panel discussion, moderated by Viswa Sadasivan, chief executive of consultancy firm Strategic Moves, Mr Fernandez; Dr June Tay, head of the digital media programme at the School of Science and Technology in SUSS, and infectious diseases expert Dale Fisher, spoke on issues of credibility and trust in media outlets.

Professor Fisher, who is group chief of medicine at the National University Health System and chairman of the steering committee for the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network at the World Health Organisation, highlighted the role of effective communications in a public health crisis and the need for a responsible media.

Efforts to deliver quality coverage to readers during the Covid-19 outbreak were also highlighted in ST's specially produced video, Journalism Through A Pandemic, yesterday evening.

The half-hour documentary on ST's Facebook and YouTube pages features footage of its correspondents covering the scourge across Asia, showing how newsrooms adapted to social distancing and the ways in which news stories have made an impact on national policies.

The World News Day events will culminate in a virtual programme by the Canadian Journalism Foundation and World Editors Forum today at 7am (Singapore time).

It will feature US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci and Philippine news website Rappler's co-founder Maria Ressa.

The webcast will be hosted by CNN Worldwide's chief media correspondent Brian Stelter, and feature musical performances by singers like Grammy winner Macy Gray.

• Those who are interested in the webcast can register for free on the World News Day website. Go to https://str.sg/wnd-event

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2020, with the headline 'Media showcases role in helping to tackle Covid-19 crisis'. Print Edition | Subscribe