A group of 26 journalists has come together to object to the COVID-19 “fearmongering” and the censorship of alternative views by mainstream media and Big Tech platforms since the beginning of the pandemic.
According to the group, the result of the fearmongering and censorship has been the public receiving a “distorted view of the truth.”
The group calls itself “Holding the Line: Journalists Against COVID Censorship.”
It comprises mostly UK-based journalists working at newspapers, broadcasters, and PR companies as staffers or freelancers.
The members were interviewed by Press Gazette, with most preferring to remain anonymous for fear of retribution from their employers.
However, some were more than happy to be named, including Sonia Elijah and Karen Harradine, investigative journalists for The Conservative Woman, former BBC journalist Tony Gosling, and Laura Berril, a PR and tech journalist.
The group's mission is to promote a “prejudice-free” environment where journalists can air their concerns and raise awareness on lesser-covered issues.
To them, the media is doing “incredible work.” But there are some failures, especially surrounding COVID reporting, such as “a lack of context for statistics, due coverage for alternative treatments, scrutiny of PCR testing, attention to adverse vaccine reactions, or balanced examinations of the costs of lockdown.”
The group accused the UK media of often publishing “fear-inducing and sometimes inaccurate” reports, which in turn create hostility towards those who would prefer not to get the vaccines.
“It's been unprecedented the way COVID-19 has been reported in the UK but not just in the UK, worldwide,” said Sonia Elijah, one of the members of the group who allowed Press Gazette to mention her name.
“There's only been one official narrative played out in the mainstream media and that has not changed over time.
“There's only been one ‘scientific truth' allowed to be discussed: the one endorsed by worldwide governmental regulatory bodies, even that has been very selective. This has given the public a distorted view of the truth which has been highly damaging.”
Elijah expressed her concern about censorship of information that contradicts the narrative provided by the Trusted News Initiative.
“For a long time, we've been in this dark era of censorship that's been embodied by the Trusted News Initiative which cuts across big tech and all mainstream media,” she said.
“It's been packaged around this war on disinformation or misinformation- where anything that's gone against the official narrative has not just been ‘fact checked' but has been suppressed or removed.”
According to Gosling, the group is championing for balanced debate.
Gosling said: “Our main concern is that there's a very powerful lobby behind many of these COVID measures, including treatment, lack of treatment and vaccines, obviously, but there isn't much of a lobby in the other direction. And I think most of us feel that our employers of various sorts have not been representing both sides.”
Gosling had two of his interviews featuring doctors advocating for early treatment post-diagnosis, the effectiveness of ivermectin, and the dangers of the “experimental” vaccines removed by YouTube.
As an example of the “sometimes inaccurate” coverage, he pointed to a BBC report where the contributor claims the Pfizer jab was “100% safe” for kids between the ages of 12 and 15. It was only after his complaint that the BBC removed the “shocking” and “disgusting” claim and provided a correction.
Gosling added: “My own aim is to provide balance, that's it basically. And also to point out to the public that the journalists don't always get to choose what gets published.
“It's the owners and the editors that have the final say, so we are all of the same mind that we would like to see more journalists being editors and having their own newspapers, having their own TV/radio stations but that's very, very rare. So there's always an editor somewhere just saying no, I don't want this, and particularly through this pandemic that's the way it's been, people have found it difficult to get stories in, and it's been frustrating.”