- The COVID-19 pandemic has provided many governments with an excuse to crack down on journalists who counter government narratives. Globally, at least 14 journalists have been arrested for “unfair and imprecise coverage” of the pandemic.
- Worldwide, 387 journalists were detained during 2020. Thirty journalists were killed in relation to their work. Of those, 21 were murdered in retaliation for their reporting. Most were covering political topics.
- China tops the list of countries where suppression of journalism is taking place. As of Dec. 1, 2020, 117 Chinese journalists had been arrested.
- One of them is Zhang Zhan, a former Shanghai lawyer who was detained May 15, 2020. She’d been posting daily video reports about the Wuhan outbreak on YouTube and Twitter since early February.
- Dec. 28, 2020, the Shanghai Pudong People’s Court sentenced Zhang to four years in prison for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”
Journalism has long been a risky profession, but the COVID-19 pandemic has provided many governments with an excuse to increase their crackdown on journalists who counter government narratives about the virus and their handling of the pandemic.
Globally, at least 14 journalists have been arrested for “unfair and imprecise coverage” of the pandemic. Courtney Radsch, advocacy director for the Committee to Protect Journalists, told U.S. News that “COVID is a very convenient excuse to target journalists that regimes did not like before.”