The study “Can Journalists Be Safe in a Violent World?” by Silvio Waisbord from George Washington University paints a worrying picture of journalists’ safety issue: that it is more complex and worse than in the past.
Journalists’ safety is a global concern. It used to be more of a problem for journalists in the Global South or Western journalists covering wars rather than journalists in the Global North, but nowadays the problem also affects journalists in the North. However, not all journalists are equally vulnerable to attacks. Particularly woman journalists or non-white journalists are targeted.
Another issue is the persecution of journalists in authoritarian regimes and even in democratic regimes by means such as surveillance deployed on journalists. Regimes sometimes collaborate with software companies to intimidate journalists.
There is no panacea-like solution to these problems. There is a fundamental asymmetry between the various types of attacks and the responses. Nevetheless, the author recommends that there should be measures taken to increase the feeling journalists have to do their jobs while feeling safe. For this, localized solutions that take into account the various nuances are needed.
Safety measures need to be developed both inside newsrooms and outside it. Inside, journalists should have proper channels to report and gain support against harassment. Outside, countries and governments should provide resources and treat the issue from the viewpoint of fundamental rights: freedom of speech and press freedom.
The article “Can Journalists Be Safe in a Violent World?” by Silvio Waisbord is in Journalism Practice. (free access).
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