Truth distancing? Whistleblowing as remedy to censorship during COVID-19

Vigjilenca Abazi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In the COVID-19 pandemic, whistleblowers have become the essential watchdogs disrupting suppression and control of information. Many governments have intentionally not disclosed information or failed to do so in a timely manner, misled the public or even promoted false beliefs. Fierce public interest defenders are pushing back against this censorship. Dr Fen and Dr Wenliang were the first whistleblowers in China to report that a new pandemic was possibly underway, and ever since, numerous other whistleblowers around the world have been reporting on the spread of the virus, the lack of medical equipment and other information of public interest. This paper maps the relevant whistleblowing cases in China, the USA and Europe and shows that many whistleblowers are initially censored and face disciplinary measures or even dismissals. At the same time, whistleblowing during the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn public attention to the shortcomings of institutional reporting systems and a wider appreciation of whistleblowers as uniquely placed to expose risk at early stages. Ultimately, whistleblowing as a means of transparency is not only becoming ever less controversial, but during COVID-19 it has become the "remedy" to censorship.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-381
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Risk Regulation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


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