Press Freedom and Safety

A press freedom violation can be an assassin’s bullet, aimed to kill an investigative journalist, and to intimidate and silence his colleagues.

It can be the knock on the door from the police, bringing in a reporter to question her on her sources, or put her in jail with or without a proper trial.

It can be a restrictive media law, which puts the power over editorial content into the hands of censors and press courts.

Over the past 12 years more than 1.100 journalists and media staff have been killed in the line of duty. They died because someone did not like what they wrote or said, or because they were in the wrong place in the wrong time.

The International Federation of Journalists monitors press freedom violations and campaigns for greater safety and for a focus on the in-country journalists and freelances who are at greatest risk and who have the least protection. This is done in cooperation with the member unions around the world, and with other organizations through IFEX, the International Freedom of Expression Exchange.

The IFJ works for press freedom by trade union development, working for journalists’ rights and social conditions, as there can be no press freedom where journalists exist in conditions of corruption, poverty or fear.

The IFJ is also a founder of the International News Safety Institute, founded in 2003, which promotes practical action world-wide to increase the safety and protection of journalists and media staff.

LIVE NEWS - A Survival Guide for Journalists

The IFJ has also developed a practical, comprehensive safety guide for journalists working in the field called Live News. 

Click on each language to read a copy of Live News in Initiates file downloadEnglish, Initiates file downloadFrench, Initiates file downloadSpanish, Initiates file downloadArabic, Initiates file downloadItalian, Initiates file downloadRussian, and for Sri Lanka (Initiates file downloadSinhala or Initiates file downloadTamil).

The book is a practical guide to be read by journalists who live and work in hazardous conditions and by those who may be assigned to risky areas. 

Part 1 - covers preparing for dangerous assignments, physically, psychologically, emotionally and intellectually. What do you need to know, what do you need to take with you, and how can you equip yourself for this experience?

Part 2 - analyses risks and shows how to reduce dangers in war zones and conflict areas. This includes information about weapons and advice on how journalists and camera operators can avoid being mistaken for combatants. One chapter analyses why riots are especially dangerous. Another looks at the risks of becoming a kidnap victim and what to do if this happens.

Part 3 - focuses on medical attention in conditions where there is no easy access to hospitals, clinics or doctors. Journalists need to learn how to keep themselves healthy on assignment, and what they can do to keep a dangerously ill or severely injured person alive until medical help is available. These skills must be practised and this book may help journalists’ organisations to set up training courses.

Part 4 - looks at the role of local and international organisations in arranging safety courses and in campaigning for safety.