The Public Media Alliance, with support from UNESCO Bangkok and the rapid response mechanism of the International Programme for the Development of Communications (IPDC), is proud to announce the launch of our new project that seeks to identify and respond to challenges related to media freedom, media viability and journalist safety in Southeast Asia in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the global economy, resulting in a significant loss of revenue for the media. Despite record audience growth and demand, the economic stress of the crisis is pushing many independent media organisations to the brink of extinction, at a time when they are needed the most. Job losses, pay cuts and even closures have been rife.

These financial pressures are happening against the backdrop of threats to media freedom and the safety of journalists, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. The International Press Institute’s (IPI) COVID-19 Press Freedom Tracker has recorded more than 600 COVID-19 related press freedom violations worldwide since February 2020. Many governments around the world have been using the pandemic as an excuse to curtail media freedom, and clampdown on independent journalism and critical reporting.  As a result, media organisations are struggling to operate in an environment that is becoming increasingly restrictive due to limited access to information, excessive ‘fake news’ regulations, clampdowns on freedom of expression and a rise in attacks on journalists.


PMA will work with media stakeholders and its members in Southeast Asia to conduct regional research with in country experts into the status of media viability, media freedom and safety of journalists during the COVID-19 crisis to create a situation report.

A draft of the report with then be open to discussion and feedback via an online meeting for media stakeholders in the region to provide feedback. The feedback from the online meeting and research will then be discussed in four in-country meetings in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

The final objective of the project is to compile a regional roadmap that addresses the issues raised in the report and provide recommendations based on our research on how to better equip journalists, media organisations and the wider media environment in the region with useful and practical ways of responding to the challenges during and beyond the COVID-19 crisis. The roadmap will be made available as a digital resource to media in Southeast Asia.

The project will focus on ten Southeast Asian countries: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam.


All meetings for the project will take place virtually due to COVID-19 safety precautions. The online meetings and in-country workshops will take place later in 2021.  Once we have a confirmed date, we will invite interested participants to apply to attend the meetings.

As part of the project research, we will send a survey to media stakeholders, including journalists, media practitioners, policymakers, press councils, academics, and media NGO representatives in the Southeast Asian region to share their valuable insights and experiences of the important and timely themes of this project. The survey will also be made available via our website and will assist us with an understanding of the needs of journalists and media workers in the region.

We will publish further updates on our website and across our social media platforms throughout the duration of the project.


As part of this UNESCO-supported project, PMA and the Asia Democracy Network (ADN) have launched a questionnaire to gain valuable insights that will help to inform our research. The questionnaire is aimed at journalists, media practitioners and academics in the region.

Please click on the link below to access the survey. We do hope that you can find the time to participate, and we look forward to your valued feedback.

The survey closes on 22 August 2021, 11:59pm (BST).

For more information and if you would like to get involved, please email the PMA Projects & Membership Manager, Jasmine Chandler, at

We are thankful to the UNESCO Bangkok and the UNESCO International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) for supporting this project. It is one of two new PMA projects that IPDC has agreed to support for PMA. Find out more about our project in Haiti and our previous IPDC-supported projects.


Header image: Bangkok, Thailand 9/19/2020: Journalists and photographers are the careers of people. Credit: STANG HONGTHONG/Shutterstock