An Update on our COVID-19 work: New Crises Don’t have To Mean New Solutions

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When a new crisis hits, it is tempting to reach for fresh solutions. While COVID-19 is unprecedented in scale, many of the challenges it presents – including how to tackle life-threatening rumours to provide vital health and safety information – have well-rehearsed solutions.

West Africa has been dealing with outbreaks of the deadly Ebola virus for many years. Last week, Internews’ project manager Musa Sangarie shared his experience in providing accurate, trustworthy information during a pandemic based on his work in Democratic Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone.

His message: Put communities at the heart of any response; develop a localized approach; invest in local media.

That has been the core of our work at Internews for nearly 40 years – and now is no different. We are acutely aware that trusted information has never been more needed, yet journalists and media outlets are themselves struggling as never before. Advertising has dried up, movements are restricted, sources are overwhelmed.

To address this, we’ve launched specific programs to address COVID-19 with funding, tools and resources for information providers. And we’re doing more:

We’re sharing their stories:

We’re reaching out to hear from journalists around the world: Their biggest challenges during the coronavirus pandemic, and how they’re responding.

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See more

We’re working to keep them going:

On March 26, Internews committed $100,000 to a Rapid Response Fund, targeted to small media outlets and individual journalists, to help them continue to operate in increasingly dire economic conditions.

We were met with an overwhelming response of worthy applications. Today, we’ve helped 25 grantees from 19 countries expand their COVID-19 coverage.

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Meet the grantees

We’re providing expert support:

Our experts in health journalism, humanitarian reporting, environmental reporting and digital security and more have lent their expertise to multiple webinars a week – find these resources and more.

New programs, offering specific approaches to COVID-19 have launched, including our partnership in the H2H network, which produces a weekly newsletter and daily content for reporting on the pandemic.

And at the same time, our programs in more than 70 countries around the world have pivoted, operating under new circumstances and restraints, while keeping a focus on our mission: empowering people with the news and information they need to make informed decisions, participate in their communities, and hold power to account.

Keep in touch – we plan to release a new application for additional small media grants soon, and are updating our resources with webinars, toolkits and more.

And if you want something to energize you in these challenging times, check out this amazing song created by Internews partner Aw’Art who created a music video featuring some of the strongest voices in Congolese music. Toko Longo Corona: We are going to beat the Coronavirus.

(Banner photo: Abdullahi Mire, Somali journalist at the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. Credit: FilmAid)