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From the cancellation of the International Journalism Festival in Perugia to new sources of misinformation, the journalism industry has not been spared of the disruption by Covid-19.

In Italy, however, it became almost impossible to do day-to-day reporting. Italy is the worst affected country in Europe with more than 10,000 reported cases of the coronavirus. To limit further spread, the Italian government has imposed a national quarantine until April 2020, with public events and gatherings banned.

Milan-based journalist Luigi Mastrodonato explained that for journalists focused on sports, entertainment and events, there is nothing to write about for several weeks. At the same time, current affairs reporters are focused almost exclusively on the disease.

"Covid-19 has cannibalised everything else," he says.

Whilst the general public is restricted from leaving their homes, reporters are able to move around the country for work but only if they carry appropriate documentation. However, this can be challenging for freelancers, Nadeesha Uyangoda, freelance reporter, explained.

"I never thought this scenario would have been possible in a western European democracy where people can move freely with no borders."

When she has been able to interview people, Uyangoda has had to take extraordinary measures, such as paying close attention to the distance between herself and her source. And as some people have chosen to wear face masks, it can be difficult to hear what they are saying.

Mastrodonato believes mistakes in reporting on the coronavirus contributed to the chaos and confusion over its spread in the country - some outlets have reported draft laws as definitive and false stories have also circulated in the mainstream media.

"There was a race for bringing the news first that did not help the population in this difficult phase.

"Today as never before, journalistic ethics is important and the journalist is responsible for saying clearly and in a balanced way what is happening and how to behave. The way the population reacts to the emergency depends on how it is narrated and it is up to us to narrate it well."

The travel restrictions are also causing problems for journalists. With flights to Italy being cancelled by major airlines and with some countries preventing Italians from entering, covering foreign topics or events is almost impossible.

Domestic stories have also been disrupted as a result of the quarantine measures, with pieces having to be adapted or dropped entirely in light of recent developments.

"I wrote about the way prisons are dealing with the current epidemic, but I was unable to enter the jail or speak with the prisoners precisely because of the limitations of the movement,” Mastrodonato said.

"We have to partially adapt our ways of doing journalism, looking for stories that are feasible in the current situation."

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