COVID-19: Our response and our impact

by Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 5 June 2020 13:42 GMT

Just 10 weeks ago, as the world began grappling with the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Thomson Reuters Foundation launched the first of its responses – grounded in its journalism and legal expertise – to better equip those right on the frontlines of the crisis.

Our most immediate focus was to upskill reporters covering the health crisis in regions braced for the worst, to provide a raft of tailored legal resources for civil society organisations and social enterprises juggling increasing pressure on their services with decreased resources, and to bring insightful and unbiased news coverage of the impact of coronavirus on the lives of some of the most vulnerable people on the planet.

A lot has happened since then. Here are some highlights:

The Coronavirus Crisis Reporting Hub for Journalists in the Global South

Our initiative to equip journalists with the core skills they need to report on the pandemic, and to connect them with key experts and other reporters who have been covering the crisis in countries already devastated by COVID-19, is going from strength to strength.

Our first cohort in Africa - including reporters in Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana and South Africa – are five weeks into their training, which has included virtual masterclasses and online skills labs, as well as live expert briefings.

Our line-up of key policymakers and experts from WHO, INSI, WEF, Africa CDC and The Global Fund, has already yielded five stories published in local media outlets. Participants were also given a session on crisis reporting from the frontline hosted by Reuters chief correspondent in Rome Crispian Balmer.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation is committing more than £50,000 to our COVID-19 response. We are aiming to reach £250,000 in support from funders to rapidly scale up and sustain our work for on-the-ground beneficiaries. Contact Rommel Moseley, our Global Director of Development, at to partner with us and support our work.

In-depth news coverage on the impact of coronavirus on people, society and human rights

We have so far published more than 400 stories on a dedicated section of our news site focused on the impact COVID-19 is having on people, society and human rights - in particular on those around the world who struggle to live freely and are unable to live fairly.

Coverage explores topics ranging from how coronavirus restrictions are increasing health risks to LGBT+ people with HIV, to how the virus is hitting workers in some of the world’s lowest-paid sectors, to those often overlooked by society or already denied their human rights.

We have also experimented with new editorial formats to engage a broader audience on issues arising from the pandemic; take a look at our explainer video on how coronavirus is affecting climate change.

We’ll continue highlighting proposed innovative approaches and solutions to ensure that the world’s most vulnerable people are not overlooked, and that the technology used to tackle the crisis is ethical and does not infringe on human rights.

For a daily roundup of our coverage on the pandemic, sign up to our dedicated newsletter. 

Pro Bono Legal Support

Our global pro bono legal network, TrustLaw, working closely with our legal partners around the world, has so far hosted 30 live webinars on specific issues arising from the crisis, attended by more than 900 people from our NGO and social enterprise members. Our webinars have been delivered across countries including the US, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, India, Italy, UK, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, and Bangladesh. Topics discussed range from employment issues, contractual rights, insurance, GDPR, governance, health and safety. You can hear the webinar recordings here.

We’ve created a Guide to the legal implications of COVID-19 on NGOs and social enterprises in Argentina, in collaboration with local clearinghouse, Comisión Pro Bono del Colegio de Abogados de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, and the pro bono workshop programme at the Law School of the University Torcuato Di Tella. More than 120 NGOs, social enterprises and lawyers joined the online launch session of this resource in which our LatAm team shared useful legal information on some of the sector´s main concerns; donations, government subsidies and employment.

TrustLaw’s South Asia team held a three-day roundtable series targeting specific NGOs and social enterprises working in the fields of fake news, data and digital rights and LGBTQ+ rights. We looked at the rise of fake news during the global lockdown, the collection of sensitive data by tracking apps in the region, and the pandemic response work that the organisations are doing to support the LGBTQ+ community in South Asia.

We hosted a virtual working group to discuss protecting data and digital rights during the fight against COVID-19, attended by non-profits from six countries, moderated by law firms Orrick and Goodwin. The organisations discussed a global framework that regulates data sharing to fill the legal loopholes of some of the measures used by governments to fight COVID-19.

Our COVID-19 Legal Checklist to help non-profits and social enterprises identify their legal needs in the face of the pandemic is now live. It is also available in Spanish.

A repository of legal resources produced by law firms to support NGOs and social enterprises during this crisis is available on TrustLaw’s COVID-19 Response microsite.

TC | Talks

TC Talks is our newly-launched interview show featuring world-renowned experts who would otherwise have held the stage at our annual human rights forum Trust Conference, in conversation with our CEO Antonio Zappulla. While Trust Conference is postponed for this year, the series builds upon the strength and reach of the forum, and airs on our Trust Conference YouTube channel every month. It’s an opportunity for us to remain connected with our audiences as we navigate the challenges posed by the global health crisis, and to share timely insights on media freedom, inclusive economies and human rights from some of the world’s highest-profile thought leaders. Hear Executive Director of the CPJ Joel Simon explain the COVID-19 crackdown on press freedom in the first of our series and subscribe to our channel to hear the line-up as it’s announced.



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