SAFETY FIRST BEFORE REPORTING -EVERY JOURNALIST DESERVES TO BE ALIVE
Journalists face violence and intimidation for exercising their fundamental right to freedom of expression. The range of threats faced include murder, kidnapping, hostage-taking, offline and online harassment, intimidation, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention, and torture.
According to the Committee of Protect Journalist (CPJ), twenty-seven (27) journalists worldwide have lost their lives on a search to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments, as at 8th, September 2020.
According to (CPJ), nearly 41% of death were confirmed to be related to their work as journalists were murdered, about 8% caught in crossfires, 14% killed on a dangerous assignment, and 37% death remains unconfirmed. According to the NGO, political groups were the most likely source of violence in these killings, followed by military officials and unknown sources.
Since journalists covering conflicts do not receive a full safety guarantee by the belligerents. It is the responsibility of the media institution that sends them into conflict zones to limit the risks and to provide protection, fundamental guaranties, and, if necessary, compensation no matter if they are salaried or freelancers, local or international journalists.
The objectives of every safety strategy should be the provision of safety training for local journalists and the development of international norms for safety training and equipment.
As a journalist, you must be aware of some conflict zone precaution, which includes:
• Ensure that you have the correct accreditation or press identification. For freelancers, a letter from the commissioning employer is helpful. Have it on display only if safe to do so. Please do not use a lanyard, but clip it to a belt.
• Don’t to go alone. Consider taking another reporter or photographer with you if necessary.
• Always ensure to report from a safe area i.e the press area, unless it is safe to do otherwise. Ascertain if the security or police will assist if you are in distress, and identify various exits.
• Journalists are advised against wearing branded logos of media companies as this might prove dangerous. You might become an easy target in volatile areas.
• If the task is difficult, do not bottle up your emotions. Tell your superiors and colleagues. Everyone must learn from each other. Let others help.
• If you’re in trouble, hand over what the assailant wants. No report or equipment is worth your life.