PH journalists back protections
NEW YORK—More global journalism organizations on Friday signed on to protections for freelance and local correspondents who face increasingly deadly dangers in the field.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, the Guardian News and Media group and Newsweek were the latest to agree to a set of “principles and practices” that was launched on Thursday evening at the Columbia University School of Journalism.
Media and advocacy groups including The Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg, the BBC and the Committee to Protect Journalists all say “news organizations have a moral responsibility to support journalists to whom they give assignments in dangerous areas.”
The recent beheadings of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff by Islamic State extremists are some of the most visible examples of the risks to correspondents on the ground.
Creators of the principles said the list of organizations signing on, now numbering about 30, should grow steadily as word of their global campaign spreads.
“Everyone who signed understands what we see day in and day out, that dangers to freelancers on assignment is actually a danger to the press to do its job,” said Bruce Shapiro, executive director of the New York-based Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma.
Of the 61 journalists killed around the world last year because of their work, 13 were freelancers, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. Reporters without Borders, which signed on to the new guidelines, listed at least seven freelancers among its count of 69 journalists killed last year.
The guidelines urge news organizations to treat their regular freelance and local correspondents as they treat their staffers in safety and training and to be prepared to take similar responsibility in case of kidnapping or injury.
The principles also urge journalists working in dangerous areas to obtain the basic training and equipment to care for themselves or injured colleagues and to have a planning and communications strategy with news organizations while on assignment. They should also engage in a strict risk assessment with their editors, measuring the journalistic value of the story against the dangers they may face.
News organizations ought to give freelancers “prompt payment” and fair recognition of their work, according to the principles.
Board members of the Frontline Freelance Register, a registry of more than 500 global correspondents, called the principles a good first step.
“We’re going to continue pushing for more in the coming months with emphasis on fair pay as well, but that will be for later,” said Nicole Tung, a board member and freelance photojournalist.