The environment and nature of the work of foreign correspondents has significantly changed in recent years under the influence of the digital revolution, which has also enabled them to reach wider audiences than ever before. Foreign correspondents are nowadays increasingly diverse, with more women, and more local and freelance journalists. While foreign correspondents were historically thought of as foreigners reporting to foreign audiences, more and more of them are local journalists serving external media.
Like many of their fellow journalists, foreign correspondents are affected by growing hostility and violence towards the press, including gender-based violence and harassment against women journalists as well as killings. They also face specific threats and a particular brand of political hostility, as they are at times branded as foreign agents who spread disinformation or as threats to national security. In some countries, they are blocked from obtaining accreditation or visas, and may even be expelled to deter scrutiny and reporting on elections, public protests along with political and social issues. These kinds of measures have been particularly visible during the COVID-19 crisis.
Launching the report, the UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information Tawfik Jelassi stressed the essential role played by foreign correspondents in upholding media plurality: