Posted by Taylor Soule
As journalists swarm Gaza, a single goal prevails: publish first. As journalists race to publish the latest information before rival news outlets, safety abroad receives insufficient attention. Already, airstrikes have killed three journalists covering the conflict.
Journalists often lack the defenses necessary to protect themselves overseas. Additionally, Israel’s attack on Gaza’s Hamas leaders escalated quickly, sending journalists to Gaza with little notice or preparation.
Thus, to improve journalists’ security abroad, news outlets ought to provide and require safety training. Often, publications deem safety preparation a plus when sending reporters abroad. Safety preparation, however, ought to act as a prerequisite.
Though resources exist online, in-person safety training ensures that all journalists at a given news outlet receive like preparation.
Before Washington Post reporters go abroad, the publication funds an optional safety course taught by Centurion. Centurion’s training uses mock situations to boost journalists’ awareness of danger. The mock situations change to reflect the hazards prevalent at present.
The Rory Peck Trust, which supports freelancers worldwide, awards free safety courses to qualified journalists before they enter “hostile environments.” The courses prepare journalists to identify and evaluate hazards, cope with crises and provide first-aid.
Though precautions exist, too few journalists take advantage. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 341 journalists worldwide were killed between 1995-2004.
Until news outlets protect journalists in advance by requiring safety courses, that toll will climb.
Ultimately, I believe today’s media prize supremacy over safety, encouraging journalists to seek the latest information despite danger.
Should news outlets require reporters to complete safety training as a precondition to work abroad?