Increasingly dangerous press environment prompts CPJ to launch Journalist Security Guide
With more than 30 journalists killed worldwide every year, and hundreds more threatened, attacked, and otherwise harassed, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has released a Journalist Security Guide, aimed at helping journalists report safely in an increasingly hostile press environment where, whether because of organized crime, drug traffickers, corrupt politicians, political protesters or even natural disasters, "journalists everywhere need to watch their own and each other’s backs now more than ever before," according to the new guide.
"In a world where a reporter, photographer, editor, blogger, commentator, or producer is killed once a week -- most of the time murdered -- it's clear that security must become a core function of being a journalist," said Frank Smyth, CPJ’s senior adviser for journalist security, in a column in the Huffington Post.
The security guide, released Thursday, April 26, includes chapters on basic preparedness, assessing and responding to risk, armed conflict, organized crime and corruption, civil matters and disturbances, and natural disasters.
The ever-changing technological environment -- and the fact that the "volume and sophistication" of attacks on online journalists and digital attacks on journalists is increasing at an alarming rate -- prompted CPJ to include a chapter on information security, which CPJ said "means defending your data, from research notes to the confidential details of your contacts, from basic details of your itinerary to audio and video files." Just in the past two years, news sites in Mexico, Honduras, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, the United States, and Venezuela have endured cyberattacks.
Due in part to the sexual assault on CBS correspondent Lara Logan during an Egyptian protest, attacks on U.S. reporters covering the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the violence against journalists reporting on student protests in Chile, the CPJ guide also includes a section devoted to protests and riots. Between 1992 and 2011, roughly 100 journalists were killed while covering protests and other civil disturbances, CPJ said.
The guide, which also offers information about stress and insurance (providers often refuse to offer journalists in northern Mexico insurance), as well as checklists and other safety resources, concludes, "In this changing and dangerous climate, be guided by some basic principles: Be fully informed about security issues, make your safety a primary consideration, prepare yourself thoroughly for each assignment, look out for other journalists in the field, and take care of yourself before, during, and after assignment."
See the CPJ video below for more about the journalists' security guide:
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