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Press freedom: how governments are using COVID as an excuse to crack down on the public's right to know

By Sara Torsner, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Freedom of the Media, University of Sheffield
Jackie Harrison, Professor of Public Communication, Centre for Freedom of the Media, University of Sheffield
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A government’s fear of scrutiny and criticism often determines how repressive it is toward the press. The greater the fear, the greater the loss of press freedom.

Of course governments dislike appearing afraid, so they hide their fear under the cover of “a reasonable excuse”. Such an excuse is often related to protecting national security or the public interest. Even better is the cover of a national emergency.

The non-government organisation Reporters Without Borders (RSF), which compiles the World Press Freedom Index, knows this. And so it has adopted a sceptical approach…


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