News / Middle East

CPJ: Journalists Need New Ways to Stay Safe

Journalists work in dangerous conditions where security is a serious concern. Evolving technologies and newsroom cutbacks, however, have resulted in more reporters on the frontlines of news gathering as freelancers and stringers, working without the institutional support long enjoyed by staff journalists. As a result, the Committee to Protect Journalists - an independent organization that promotes press freedom worldwide - says they need new ways to stay safe.

CPJ says the profession and the threats facing journalists have changed dramatically in the last decade. Digital technology allows a great many “citizen journalists” to be out in the field on their own, and many governments, and other groups, increasingly take lethal action against anyone attempting to document events.

In Syria, experienced American war correspondent Marie Colvin was killed in February along with French photographer Remi Ochlik.  

Risky proposition

McClatchy Newspapers’ Roy Gutman said journalists often must take risks to cover a story. Speaking from Istanbul via Skype, he said that even those who know the rules, though, cannot always protect themselves.

“Journalists have realized that they are targets, and they are not, you know, protected by really anybody, and they better find their own protection,” said Gutman.

VOA foreign correspondent Peter Heinlein was detained in Ethiopia in May while trying to interview protesters during a demonstration. He said journalism is definitely becoming a more dangerous proposition.

"When you go out into the field, you know you’re going into an arena, an environment, that is increasingly sophisticated at flummoxing journalists, at stopping them, preventing them from covering the stories,” said Heinlein.

Prepping for safety

CPJ’s new Journalist Security Guide outlines basic preparedness for new journalists, such as entry and exit planning when going into dangerous situations, navigating foreign bureaucracies in cases of injury or arrest, and threat assessment for journalists of all experience levels.

It also offers advice on digital security. CPJ senior advisor Frank Smyth said that's something about which journalists only recently have started to become aware.

“… that they need to protect the information on their hard drives, that they need to be able to protect their communications, whether an email or by telephone, cell phones with sources,” said Smyth.

The guide also stresses the importance of emotional self-care - recognizing and dealing with the trauma that can come with hazardous assignments - up to, and including, sexual assault.

Emotional protection

ABC News’ chief foreign correspondent Martha Raddatz said a good journalist must have empathy, as well as ways to cope with painful memories of things they have seen in the field.

“Just the other day, I was driving someplace with my family and there was a little kid running around, and my daughter said something, 'look, take my baby, take my baby,' and I said, oh, that brought back a memory of Ethiopia in the early 80s during the famine and remembering that women were trying to hand me their babies because they were so starving and near death.”

She says it is then - when journalists are “in the moment” - that they must be most cautious.

Raddatz agrees that security is a core function of being a journalist. She said the CPJ guide provides important tips on how they can protect themselves, their sources and their work. But in the end, she said, journalists must have their own sense of security - in order to do their job and live to tell about it.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs