Coronavirus: Black box seized from Ruby Princess ship at centre of Australia outbreak

Australian police have seized a black box data recorder from a ship as part of a homicide investigation into 15 deaths and more than 600 coronavirus cases.

There has been anger after authorities allowed the 2,700 passengers on The Ruby Princess to disembark last month without health checks.

Hundreds later tested positive and 15 died – more than a quarter of the country’s 51 fatalities.

Police wore full protective gear on Wednesday evening as they boarded the ship at Port Kembla, south of Sydney, to collect evidence and interview the captain.

They said it was likely to remain docked for ten more days as the 1,000 or so crew still on board get tested for coronavirus.

Around 200 staff are displaying symptoms, while 18 have already tested positive.

The crew come from around 50 different countries.

A black box data recorder was among evidence seized and is “very similar to that of international planes”, according to New South Wales police commissioner Mick Fuller.

Mr Fuller said the ship’s captain had been very helpful.

The Ruby Princess is the third cruise liner belonging to Princess Cruises to find itself at the centre of a virus outbreak.

The Diamond Princess docked in Yokohama in Japan for around three weeks in February after cases rose rapidly. Passengers were eventually allowed to leave and travel home under strict conditions.

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Coronavirus: Boris Johnson ‘continues to improve’ in intensive care

The prime minister “continues to improve” in intensive care and had a “good night” in hospital, Downing Street has said.

Boris Johnson is spending his fourth full day in hospital after being admitted on Sunday evening.

He went to St Thomas’ Hospital in London on Sunday evening because his symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, remained persistent.

Then, the following day, he was moved to intensive care after his condition worsened.

But the PM looks to be on the mend, with Downing Street saying on Wednesday that Mr Johnson was in “good spirits” and making “steady progress”.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak told that day’s coronavirus news conference that Mr Johnson was now “sitting up in bed” and “engaging positively” with medics.

Former defence minister Tobias Ellwood told Sky News earlier that the PM is “mentally able to make decisions” and remains “accessible” to his team.

Mr Johnson’s spokesman said he is continuing with “standard oxygen treatment”, adding: “The prime minister had a good night and continues to improve in intensive care.

“He’s in good spirits.”

The PM was last seen in public a week ago, when he joined in with the public clapping for NHS workers.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who has been deputising for Mr Johnson, is expected to take part instead.

“The prime minister thanks the NHS for the brilliant care which it is providing,” his spokesman said.

“The claps for carers have provided wonderful, unifying moments for the entire country.

“I’m sure that tonight we will once again see people in their millions paying tribute to our fantastic dedicated care workers.”

More follows…

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Indonesia reports biggest jump in coronavirus deaths as Malaysia trend improves

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia reported its biggest daily jump in coronavirus deaths on Thursday, bringing the total confirmed number to 280 in the world’s fourth most populous country, the highest death toll in Asia outside China where the virus first emerged.

Indonesia confirmed 40 more deaths and its death toll accounts for nearly half of the more than 590 across Southeast Asia. More than 16,500 cases have been reported across the region.

Indonesian health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said the country had registered 337 new infections, also a new daily high, taking the total to 3,293.

Health experts say Indonesia faces a surge in cases after a slow government response masked the scale of the outbreak in Southeast Asia’s biggest country.

Indonesia has brought in “large-scale social restrictions”, but President Joko Widodo has resisted bringing in the type of tough lockdowns imposed by neighbours and only moved to allow areas like Jakarta, where there has been a spike in cases, more powers to tackle the crisis.

Researchers at the University of Indonesia have predicted there could be 140,000 deaths and 1.5 million cases by May without tougher curbs on movement and gathering.

Indonesia has stepped up the number of tests to 16,511 as of Wednesday, but for a country with more than 260 million people it has one the lowest testing rates in the world

Neighbouring Malaysia, with only 32 million people, has conducted 69,675 tests.

There are also growing fears that the outbreak could spread across the archipelago during the annual exodus to home villages for the Muslim Ramadan holiday.Widodo has said the government would give aid to poorer families, particularly in Jakarta, to persuade them to stay put but has rejected calls for an outright ban on the “mudik”, as the holiday is known.

Malaysia reported 109 new infections on Thursday, the second-lowest daily increase since a partial lockdown was imposed on March 18.

The data comes a day ahead of possible ministerial discussions on whether to extend the curbs on travel and non-essential businesses beyond April 14.

The country has so far recorded 4,228 infections – the highest in Southeast Asia – with 67 deaths. But government officials have said the restrictions are showing results.

“We have done well,” Ministry of Health Director General Noor Hisham Abdullah told a news conference. “We have a small window of opportunity. If we do it right we may be able to avert the surge that we have seen in other countries.”

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New Zealand orders quarantine for returning citizens in coronavirus battle

SYDNEY (Reuters) – New Zealand will begin moving citizens to compulsory quarantine from Friday as they return from overseas, stepping up its efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus halfway through a four-week nationwide lockdown.

The shutdown began in late March in the Pacific nation of about 5 million, and a state of national emergency was declared to stifle local transmissions of the respiratory disease.

“No one goes home, everyone goes into a managed facility,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, adding that 14 days spent in a government-approved facility would be a prerequisite for all foreign travellers.

“Even one person slipping through the cracks and bringing the virus in can see an explosion in cases, as we have observed with some of our bigger clusters,” she told a media briefing in Wellington on Thursday.

Ardern added that her cabinet would decide whether to extend the nationwide curbs on April 20, two days before the lockdown is set to end.

The lockdown has reduced domestic transmissions, authorities said, with a steady fall this week in the daily rise in infections.

The tally of infections rose by 29 to stand at 1,239 on Thursday, for the lowest daily rise since March 21, a sign the epidemic could be on the retreat since the lockdown began 15 days ago. Overnight, 35 people were declared to have recovered.

New Zealand, like neighbouring Australia, has fewer infections than many countries and the pace of infections in both nations has slowed dramatically in the past week.

Despite some signs of a plateau in infections, the government said it had no plans to relax the curbs over the Easter weekend and warned of hefty fines for non-essential travel then.

Police will step up activity around holiday spots during the Easter holidays, authorities said, with some roadblocks planned.

Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open tmsnrt.rs/3aIRuz7 in an external browser.

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Catholic bishops, faith groups urge Trump to back debt relief for poor countries

WASHINGTON, April 9 (Reuters) – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and an alliance of faith groups have urged President Donald Trump to champion a moratorium on debt payments for poor countries hit by the coronavirus pandemic that has triggered a global recession.

In a letter sent to the U.S. president on Wednesday, the groups said U.S. leadership was needed to both to help the 76 poorest countries in the world combat the pandemic and safeguard U.S. economic interests.

A move by rich countries, the Group of 20 major economies, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to suspend debt payments for those countries would allow them to bolster their health systems and provide for their own health safety, the groups wrote in a letter dated Wednesday.

The novel coronavirus that emerged in China in December has raced around the globe, infecting 1.41 million people and killing 87,700, according to a Reuters tally.

The IMF and World Bank, backed by the World Health Organization, have called on China, the United States and other bilateral creditors to temporarily suspend debt payments by the poorest countries so they could use the money to halt the spread of the disease and mitigate its financial impact.

G20 finance ministers and central bankers are due to consider the issue when they meet online next week during the Spring Meetings of the IMF and World Bank.

The letter from the Catholic bishops and Jubilee USA Network, a non-profit alliance of religious, development and advocacy groups, comes amid growing concern about the high level of debt of developing countries and emerging market economies.

“The current financial crisis threatens U.S. imports and exports from and to the developing world,” the bishops and Jubilee USA wrote. “Providing a suspension of debt payments and debt relief will help safeguard our common interests of returning the U.S. economy to prosperity and growth.”

The groups said the debt payment moratorium should both be interest-free, and expose all debts, including private and predatory loans.

Such a decision could help better assess debt sustainability and vulnerabilities, and, if warranted, trigger a process to restructure debt, the groups told the U.S. president.

Lending by Western countries and multilateral institutions slowed after a major round of debt restructuring in 1996, but the Chinese government, banks and companies have dramatically expanded their lending to developing countries since then. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Michael Perry)

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Coronavirus: #OneMillionClaps appeal aims to raise at least £5m for NHS workers

A new appeal being launched on Thursday aims to raise at least £5m to support NHS workers battling coronavirus.

Organised by NHS Charities Together, the #OneMillionClaps appeal aims to inspire at least one million Britons to donate £5 by texting “clap” to 70507 along with a message of support.

The money raised will be used to provide NHS nurses, doctors, staff and volunteers with food, travel, accommodation and counselling during the COVID-19 crisis.

The appeal will begin on Thursday evening when Britons are again expected to applaud NHS workers from their doorsteps for the third week in a row.

Comedian David Walliams has voiced a short film featuring NHS staff to promote the #OneMillionClaps appeal.

It also features a re-recording of Queen’s hit We Will Rock You with the new lyric: “NHS, we love you. We say, we say, thank you.”

For the last two weeks, people all over the UK – including Prime Minister Boris Johnson and countless celebrities – have joined in the “clap for our carers” campaign on Thursday evenings, in order to thank NHS staff for efforts on the coronavirus frontline.

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Credible media vital in fight against coronavirus and epidemic of fake news

As the coronavirus continues its relentless spread across the world, infecting over a million people and killing tens of thousands, news stories of lockdowns, social distancing and overwhelmed hospitals have been making the headlines just about everywhere.

Newsrooms have been working overtime to keep the communities they serve updated. Audiences have surged. Apart from news reports, people are turning to analyses and commentaries, videos and explainers, to help them make sense of the fast-evolving and far-reaching crisis.

Amid the welter of information swirling about on social media, professional newsrooms that have long invested in building expertise have been meeting the public’s hunger for objective reporting, based on journalists speaking to informed sources, providing context and perspective, drawing on historical knowledge and institutional memory.

These have also helped inoculate communities against that other virus that is on the rampage – fake news, which is sowing anxiety and confusion, as well as undermining the public’s trust in the reliability of information they receive at this critical time.

In the process, some reporters have succumbed to the coronavirus while on the job, having to be isolated and quarantined. Some newsrooms have had to evacuate hurriedly, with staff rushing home, laptops in hand, to try to keep their platforms updated and the presses rolling.

THE DANGER OF ‘NEWS DESERTS’ AND ‘INFODEMICS’

But here’s the heart-breaking news: Among the victims in the intensive care unit, gasping for breath, are some of the media organisations themselves, alongside many others from sectors that have also been hard hit, from aviation to retail.

Several, especially local and vernacular titles, might not be able to meet their financial commitments, or even pay staff salaries, in the months ahead.

Advertising is drying up, plunging by between 30 per cent and 80 per cent, according to a recent survey by the World Association of News Publishers. Revenues from media-related events, a new and growing source of funds, have also plunged as social distancing measures are put in place.

Many newsrooms, including The Straits Times, have also made content on the pandemic freely available, as a public service, thereby constraining their ability to grow revenues from subscriptions.

The upshot of this is both ironic and tragic: At a time when audiences are turning increasingly to established media titles, as recent surveys have shown, newsrooms are seeing their resources gutted, and some are even being shut.

In the United States, Gannett, the largest American newspaper chain, announced last week plans to cut salaries and lay off some staff temporarily, while Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has said it will stop print editions of 60 newspapers in Australia, with similar measures being taken in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

This has heightened concerns about the emergence of “news deserts” – communities with no access to local government and community news as media groups cease to exist there.

There is also much angst over “ghost newsrooms”, titles that are snapped up by investors as they are still profitable, who then slash their reporting capabilities to boost margins, resulting in a lack of resources to produce local, original or independent content.

The implications of these developments for society are grave. At a time when communities are most in need of critical information, many newsrooms are increasingly hampered and finding it harder to deliver on their mission.

This has led the World Health Organisation to warn of a coming “infodemic”, with misinformation spreading and undermining public trust at a crucial time.

To be sure, the financial struggles faced by newsrooms are hardly news. Oxford historian Timothy Garton Ash pointed to this in a keynote address at the St Gallen Symposium in Switzerland in May 2017.

He said: “Very simply, the Internet is destroying the business model of newspapers. For at least two centuries, we have had a public good – news, the information we need for democracy – delivered by private means… People would pay for a newspaper and (there was also) advertising revenue. The Internet has just knocked away both these pillars. So the newspapers produce the information. Facebook and Google get the profit.

“And this has a very negative effect on the newspapers on which we have relied for our news… The amount of serious news, investigative journalism and foreign reporting is going down because that’s expensive.

“This is a real problem for the journalism we need for democracy.”

Covid-19, however, has mercilessly compounded this challenge and hastened both the shift to digital and the plunge in advertising.

ALTERNATIVE FUNDING MODELS

So, is there an antidote to the virus-induced media malaise? Among the proposals that media leaders have been making urgently to their stakeholders are these:

• Declaring the media an essential service: To enable journalists to go about their jobs during lockdowns, keeping newsrooms functioning and news agents running;

• Granting financial assistance: These include tax breaks or holidays, short-term loans and wage subsidies to help newsrooms pay their staff and bills in the face of falling revenues. Denmark has set up a €25 million (S$39 million) fund which will grant news outlets that have recently seen revenues fall by between 30 per cent and 50 per cent relief of up to 60 per cent of their losses, while in Lithuania, state subsidies are also given for critical infrastructure such as broadcasting and printing facilities;

• Giving tax incentives for advertisers and subscribers: In Italy, advertisers are given tax deductions of 30 per cent of their spending in newspapers and online, while Canada allows subscribers to news titles to claim tax relief;

• Stepping up government advertising: Public education campaigns tied to the pandemic can help make up for the fall in private advertising;

• Making Big Tech pay: Technology platforms should be pressed, as France has done, to make more meaningful contributions to the news outlets they rely on for content.

But while these steps might see media groups through the crisis, they are not without risks. Not least of which is the damage that could be done to the credibility of the media if it becomes overly dependent on state funding. This is especially a concern in societies with painful experiences of governments seeking to muzzle the media, through cuts in funding and advertising, shutdowns of newsrooms and even arrests of journalists.

To safeguard against this, beyond the crisis, new business models will also have to be fashioned to ensure the media remains viable and sustainable for the long haul.

Various experiments are now under way. While some big players like The New York Times and Financial Times are growing subscription revenues from readers, others such as The Washington Post, South China Morning Post and Los Angeles Times have been bought by wealthy business leaders, who have given these newsrooms a boost by investing in journalism and technology.

Elsewhere, media groups have been given mandates by the state, with funding for public service broadcasts and journalism, as in France, Britain and the Scandinavian countries.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Some newsrooms have opted to be public trusts or not-for-profit companies, with a mission to provide public service journalism, such as The Guardian in the UK, and The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Salt Lake Tribune in the US, and also Japan’s Nikkei group.

Which of these models works best remains unclear; nor perhaps is there likely to be one model that works for all, given the very different political histories and cultures that newsrooms operate in around the world.

This much is certain: The coronavirus pandemic might have begun as a public health crisis, but some wrenching economic, social and political changes could follow in the months to come.

People and communities will need to make sense of developments unfolding around them as well as to figure out the way forward. To do so, citizens and voters will need news organisations they consider credible, which they can rely on, and trust.

The writer is president of the World Editors Forum (WEF), a network of editors that is part of the World Association of News Publishers. This opinion piece was endorsed by members of the board of the WEF, in solidarity with newsrooms around the world.

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Brazil turns to local industry to build ventilators as China orders fall through

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil’s health minister said on Wednesday that the country’s attempts to purchase thousands of ventilators from China to fight a growing coronavirus epidemic had fallen through and the government is now looking to Brazilian companies to build the devices.

“Practically all our purchases of equipment in China are not being confirmed,” Minister Luiz Henrique Mandetta said at a news conference.

An attempt to buy 15,000 ventilators in China did not go through and Brazil was making a new bid, he said, but the outcome is uncertain in the intense competition for medical supplies in the global pandemic.

In one positive sign for Brazil’s supply crunch, a private company managed to buy 40 tonnes of protective masks from China, with the shipment arriving by cargo plane in Brasilia on Wednesday.

The purchase of 6 million masks worth 160 million reais ($30 million) was undertaken by pharmaceutical and hospital equipment company Nutriex, based in Goiania, 220 kilometers east of Brasilia. The firm plans to donate part of the order.

Health authorities began to sound the alarm this week over supply shortages as hospitals faced growing numbers of patients with COVID-19.

Confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country soared to 15,927 on Wednesday, with the death toll rising by 133 in just 24 hours to 800, the ministry said.

Rio de Janeiro reported the first six deaths in four of the city’s hillside slums, called favelas, alarming authorities who fear rapid contagion in crowded communities that have limited access to medical care and often lack running water for hygiene.

Two of the deaths occurred in Rocinha, one the largest slums in South America where more than 100,000 people live.

Mandetta reported the first case of coronavirus among the Yanomami people on the country’s largest reservation and said the government plans to build a field hospital for indigenous tribes that are vulnerable to contagion.

“We are extremely concerned about the indigenous communities,” Mandetta said.

Anthropologists and health experts warn that the epidemic can have a devastating impact on Brazil’s 850,000 indigenous people whose lifestyle in tribal villages rules out social distancing.

President Jair Bolsonaro said in an address to the nation that the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was saving lives of coronavirus patients and should be used in the initial stages of COVID-19. Due to the absence of scientific evidence on its effectiveness and safety, Brazil’s health authorities limit its use to seriously ill patients who are in hospital.

Mandetta said Brazil has hired local unlisted medical equipment maker Magnamed to make 6,000 ventilators in 90 days.

Pulp and paper companies Suzano SA and Klabin SA, planemaker Embraer SA, information technology provider Positivo Tecnologia SA and automaker Fiat Chrysler have also offered to help build ventilators, he said.

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Credible media vital in fight against coronavirus and epidemic of fake news

As the coronavirus continues its relentless spread across the world, infecting over a million people and killing tens of thousands, news stories of lockdowns, social distancing and overwhelmed hospitals have been making the headlines just about everywhere.

Newsrooms have been working overtime to keep the communities they serve updated. Audiences have surged. Apart from news reports, people are turning to analyses and commentaries, videos and explainers to help them make sense of the fast-evolving and far-reaching crisis.

Amid the welter of information swirling about on social media, professional newsrooms that have long invested in building expertise have been meeting the public’s hunger for objective reporting, based on journalists speaking to informed sources, providing context and perspective, drawing on historical knowledge and institutional memory.

These have also helped inoculate communities against that other virus that is on the rampage – fake news, which is sowing anxiety and confusion, as well as undermining the public’s trust in the reliability of information they receive at this critical time.

In the process, some reporters have succumbed to the virus while on the job, having to be isolated and quarantined. Some newsrooms have had to evacuate hurriedly, with staff rushing home, laptops in hand, to try to keep their platforms updated and the presses rolling.

THE DANGER OF ‘NEWS DESERTS’ AND ‘INFODEMICS’

But here’s the heart-breaking news: Among the victims in the intensive care unit, gasping for breath, are some of the media organisations themselves, alongside many others from sectors that have also been hard hit, from aviation to retail.

Several, especially local and vernacular titles, might not be able to meet their financial commitments, or even pay staff salaries, in the months ahead.

Advertising is drying up, plunging by between 30 per cent and 80 per cent, according to a recent survey by the World Association of News Publishers. Revenues from media-related events, a new and growing source of funds, have also plunged as social distancing measures are put in place.


A lone man looks out onto the Singapore River on the second day of circuit-breaker measures in Singapore on April 8, 2020. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Many newsrooms, including The Straits Times, have also made content on the pandemic freely available as a public service, thereby constraining their ability to grow revenues from subscriptions.

The upshot of this is both ironic and tragic: At a time when audiences are turning increasingly to established media titles, as recent surveys have shown, newsrooms are seeing their resources gutted, and some are even being shut.

In the United States, Gannett, the largest American newspaper chain, announced last week plans to cut salaries and lay off some staff temporarily, while Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has said it will stop print editions of 60 newspapers in Australia, with similar measures being taken in the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

This has heightened concerns about the emergence of “news deserts” – communities with no access to local government and community news as media groups cease to exist there.

There is also much angst over “ghost newsrooms”, titles that are snapped up by investors as they are still profitable, who then slash their reporting capabilities to boost margins, resulting in a lack of resources to produce local, original or independent content.

The implications of these developments for society are grave. At a time when communities are most in need of critical information, many newsrooms are increasingly hampered and finding it harder to deliver on their mission.


Police officers salute as medical teams leave Wuhan, where the coronavirus pandemic originated, on March 17, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

This has led the World Health Organisation to warn of a coming “infodemic”, with misinformation spreading and undermining public trust at a crucial time.

To be sure, the financial struggles faced by newsrooms are hardly news. Oxford historian Timothy Garton Ash pointed to this in a keynote address at the St Gallen Symposium in Switzerland in May 2017.

He said: “Very simply, the Internet is destroying the business model of newspapers. For at least two centuries, we have had a public good – news, the information we need for democracy – delivered by private means… People would pay for a newspaper and (there was also) advertising revenue. The Internet has just knocked away both these pillars. So the newspapers produce the information. Facebook and Google get the profit.

“And this has a very negative effect on the newspapers on which we have relied for our news… The amount of serious news, investigative journalism and foreign reporting is going down because that’s expensive.

“This is a real problem for the journalism we need for democracy.”

Covid-19, however, has mercilessly compounded this challenge and hastened both the shift to digital and the plunge in advertising.

ALTERNATIVE FUNDING MODELS

So, is there an antidote to the virus-induced media malaise? Among the proposals that media leaders have been making urgently to their stakeholders are these:

– Declaring the media an essential service: To enable journalists to go about their jobs during lockdowns, keeping newsrooms functioning and news agents running;

– Granting financial assistance: These include tax breaks or holidays, short-term loans and wage subsidies to help newsrooms pay their staff and bills in the face of falling revenues. Denmark has set up a €25 million (S$39 million) fund which will grant news outlets that have recently seen revenues fall by between 30 per cent and 50 per cent relief of up to 60 per cent of their losses, while in Lithuania, state subsidies are also given for critical infrastructure such as broadcasting and printing facilities;

– Giving tax incentives for advertisers and subscribers: In Italy, advertisers are given tax deductions of 30 per cent of their spending in newspapers and online, while Canada allows subscribers to news titles to claim tax relief;

– Stepping up government advertising: Public education campaigns tied to the pandemic can help make up for the fall in private advertising;

– Making Big Tech pay: Technology platforms should be pressed, as France has done, to make more meaningful contributions to the news outlets they rely on for content.

But while these steps might see media groups through the crisis, they are not without risks. Not least of which is the damage that could be done to the credibility of the media if it becomes overly dependent on state funding. This is especially a concern in societies with painful experiences of governments seeking to muzzle the media, through cuts in funding and advertising, shutdowns of newsrooms and even arrests of journalists.

To safeguard against this, beyond the crisis, new business models will also have to be fashioned to ensure the media remains viable and sustainable for the long haul.

Various experiments are now under way. While some big players like The New York Times and Financial Times are growing subscription revenues from readers, others such as The Washington Post, South China Morning Post and Los Angeles Times have been bought by wealthy business leaders, who have given these newsrooms a boost by investing in journalism and technology.

Elsewhere, media groups have been given mandates by the state, with funding for public service broadcasts and journalism, as in France, Britain and the Scandinavian countries.


Dubai’s Burj Khalifa is lit up with a message reminding citizens to stay home amid the coronavirus pandemic, on March 24, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Some newsrooms have opted to be public trusts or not-for-profit companies, with a mission to provide public service journalism, such as The Guardian in the UK, and The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Salt Lake Tribune in the US, and also Japan’s Nikkei group.

Which of these models works best remains unclear, nor perhaps is there likely to be one model that works for all, given the very different political histories and cultures that newsrooms operate in around the world.

This much is certain: The coronavirus pandemic might have begun as a public health crisis, but some wrenching economic, social and political changes could follow in the months to come.

People and communities will need to make sense of developments unfolding around them as well as to figure out the way forward. To do so, citizens and voters will need news organisations they consider credible, which they can rely on, and trust.

The writer is president of the World Editors Forum (WEF), a network of editors that is part of the World Association of News Publishers. This opinion piece was endorsed by members of the board of the WEF, in solidarity with newsrooms around the world.

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Britain's Jewish Chronicle to seek liquidation

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Jewish Chronicle, which describes itself as the world’s oldest Jewish newspaper, is to seek liquidation, one of the most high profile media casualties of the coronavirus pandemic that has led to a collapse in advertising spend.

Founded in 1841, the title – often known as the JC – said the liquidation was expected to be finalised in the coming two to three weeks and it would make every effort to continue to publish over that time.

“Devastating news for us,” said Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle.

“I won’t be saying anything beyond confirming that the paper will be out as usual next week, and we have every intention of avoiding any interruption,” Pollard said.

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has hammered marketing budgets, forcing media groups around the world to reduce staffing numbers, cut costs and halt publication of some titles.

“Despite the heroic efforts of the editorial and production team at the newspaper, it has become clear that the Jewish Chronicle will not be able to survive the impact of the current coronavirus epidemic in its current form,” the JC said in a statement.

The Kessler Foundation, owners of the newspaper, said it was working to secure a future for the title after the liquidation.

The Guardian newspaper reported that staff had been told the parent company had run out of money during the lockdown.

The London-based Jewish Chronicle says it strives to reflect a wide diversity of Jewish religious, social and political thought across the spectrum, both Orthodox and secular.

In one of the newspaper’s most notable interviews, the JC in 1981 spoke to then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who described Israel’s attack on an Iraqi nuclear plant as a step towards international anarchy.

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