The Safety Code

The International News Safety Institute is dedicated to the right of all journalists to exercise their profession free from persecution, physical attack and other dangers to life and limb. While recognising that some conditions under which journalists and media staff work never can be completely safe and secure, INSI will strive for the elimination of unnecessary risk, in peace and in war. It will draw on the expertise of its members and supporting organisations to lobby on behalf of working journalists everywhere who embrace the INSI Code of Practice and confront physical or psychological barriers to the free and independent gathering and dissemination of news.

  1. The preservation of life and safety is paramount. Staff and freelancers equally should be made aware that unwarranted risks in pursuit of a story are unacceptable and strongly discouraged. News organisations are urged to consider safety first, before competitive advantage, for journalists in hostile environments.

  2. Assignments to war and other danger zones must be voluntary and only involve experienced news gatherers and those under their direct supervision. No career should suffer as a result of refusing a dangerous assignment. The judgement of the journalist on the spot should be final when assessing the danger or otherwise of a situation.

  3. All journalists and media staff must receive appropriate hostile environment and risk awareness training before being assigned to a danger zone. Employers are urged to make this mandatory.

  4. Employers should ensure before assignment that journalists are fully up to date on the political, physical and social conditions prevailing where they are due to work and are aware of international rules of armed conflict as set out in the Geneva Conventions and other key documents of humanitarian law.

  5. Employers must provide efficient safety equipment and medical and health safeguards appropriate to the threat to all staff and freelancers assigned to hazardous locations.

  6. All journalists should be afforded personal insurance while working in hostile areas, including cover against personal injury and death. There should be no discrimination between staff and freelancers.

  7. Employers should provide free access to confidential counselling for journalists involved in coverage of distressing events. They should train managers in recognition of post traumatic stress, and provide families of journalists in danger areas with appropriate and timely advice on the safety of their loved-ones.

  8. Journalists are neutral observers. No member of the media should carry a firearm in the course of their work.

  9. Governments and all military and security forces are urged to respect the safety of journalists in their areas of operation, whether or not accompanying their own forces. They must not restrict unnecessarily freedom of movement or compromise the right of the news media to gather and disseminate information.

  10. Security forces must never harass, intimidate or physically attack journalists about their lawful business.

The INSI Code has been developed from a number of existing industry codes prepared by leading journalist groups and media organisations.