Newsletter: October 2012
October 31, 2012 Leave a comment
• The International News Safety Institute has counted six casualties this month, three of whom were from Somalia – a sign of the rapidly deteriorating situation there. Somalia is now the second most dangerous country in the world for journalists this year, only surpassed by Syria. As of the end of October, the figure for news media casualties since the start of the year is 107, suggesting that 2012 will be one of the darkest years for journalist safety in recent history.
• Across the globe, another one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the news media has been the focus of INSI safety work. Brazil has consistently been in the top 10 most deadly nations for our profession in the past decade, and seven have been killed there this year, with many more attacked and threatened. INSI is currently training 12 journalists so they can in turn provide safety training to their colleagues. Funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, via the British Embassy in Brasilia, we are partnering with Abraji, the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism and the following unions: Sindicato dos Jornalistas do Município do Rio de Janeiro, Sindicato das Empresas de Radiodifusão, Sindicato das Empresas de Jornais e Revistas. To keep up to date with INSI’s training projects click here.
• INSI’s Deputy Director Hannah Storm and lead trainer Caroline Neil attended the inaugural Global Thinker’s Forum in the Jordanian capital, Amman, where they ran a workshop with an emphasis on personal safety for journalists and specifically female journalists. Attended by more than 20 journalists from the region and beyond, the workshop showed participants how to better plan to be deployed to dangerous places, assess risks and deal with the multiple challenges to their safety that they might face in the Middle East. Our participation at the event, which gave special focus to women’s burgeoning role in the Middle East, allowed us to talk about “No Woman’s Land – On the Frontlines with Female Reporters” and also give specific advice to journalists dealing with safety issues in the fields of investigative journalism and cyber-security. It also allowed us the opportunity to meet with local partners and, we hope, lay the ground work for returning to Jordan, an important and potential hub in the region for the focus on the safety of journalists.
• We are committed to developing strong partnerships with like-minded organisations and this month we announced we would be opening a regional safety office in Singapore, with the International Federation of Journalists’ Asia Pacific office and UNI-APRO, the regional representative of UNI-MEI, the global union representing media, entertainment, arts and sports. This means we will be able to work with our colleagues in South and South East Asia to help support journalists in a region where targeted attacks, threats, intimidation and impunity are commonplace. The office will serve a number of functions including providing a single point of contact and rapid response to threats and attacks on journalists in the region. It will also allow us to develop stronger funding proposals for donors and ensure we are not duplicating efforts, but instead developing bespoke and customised safety training with the continual input of our colleagues in the region.
• Earlier this month INSI joined leading media organisations and support groups at a London safety symposium, where they signed up to a statement demanding strong action from the United Nations to stop the killings of journalists. The event, organised by the BBC College of Journalism and the Centre for Freedom of the Media, was held in advance of a UN Interagency meeting in Vienna next month, aimed at develop concrete strategies for the UN’s Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. INSI’s Director Rodney Pinder gave a presentation arguing for the protection of journalists, but he warned participants that the news industry was sceptical about the effectiveness of UN action in countries where journalists were under attack from militaries, paramilitaries, terrorists and criminals.
• INSI has ensured that the UK military is also called to account as far as relations with the media are concerned. It has ensured the Green Book governing media-military operations in conflict reinstated a critical sentence saying that UK forces will never deliberately target individual correspondents. When the first draft appeared mid-year, INSI immediately challenged the omission. The protest was joined by several of INSI’s member news organisations and was strongly supported by prominent Liberal Democrat member of parliament Don Foster. In 2008, INSI led a team of representatives of major news organisations that persuaded the Ministry of Defence to include journalist safety in its Green Book for the first time.
• As October drew to a close with Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the east cost of the United States and occupying headlines across the world, INSI issued a safety advisory for news crews covering the storm. In the aftermath of Sandy, we also issued a safety advisory for journalists and news crews covering natural disasters.
• We continue to develop our social media work and are always interested in receiving relevant articles for our blog, to add to our number of established guest bloggers. Our blog continues to be extremely popular, whilst on Twitter we have just broken the 2000 followers mark. Thank you for your continued support in getting our important message across. It helps keep journalists safe.
• Looking ahead: INSI’s AGM will be held in Barcelona on November 14, on the eve of the News Xchange industry conference. INSI’s Deputy Director Hannah Storm will also be producing a panel session at the conference on women journalists, and copies of our ground-breaking book “No Woman’s Land – On the Frontlines with Female Reporters” will be on sale there.