CPJ: Journalists Need to Band Together for Safety

The risks to journalists reporting on wars and natural disasters are at unprecedented levels, in part due to the increasing use of freelancers and the ability for new technology to allow more people to engage in journalism.

"Demand for freelance work globally has grown because legacy media companies have shrunk expensive foreign bureau networks and new digital media outlets are voracious consumers of content," said the report. "Thanks to mobile digital technology and a plethora of free publishing platforms, being a foreign correspondent or one-person global news organization has never been easier."

The report quotes Robert Picard of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism on the new risks of technologically facilitated journalism. "You have a whole raft of people that are either new to journalism or new to covering foreign conflicts," he said, "who are going out either because of necessity or because they think it will be interesting or because they think it will help get them a better position later on, who are willing to take degrees of risk that are much higher, often without full knowledge of what the risks are, and that is a huge problem."

CPJ says some big news outlets have taken steps to increase safety in response to the growing threat from insurgent and criminal groups—freelancers and smaller outlets don’t have the money for insurance or security—while some journalists say news outlets are recklessly endangering their reporters.

Against that backdrop of growing threats to their safety, according to the report, journalists must become more pro-active and "work in solidarity to combat violence and impunity."

The report dates the "journalist as target" movement roughly to the 2002 kidnapping and killing of Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.