Resolution #5 – Safeguard the watchdogs

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The year 2023 has been a stark reminder of the dangers journalists face globally. As we step into 2024, safeguarding journalists must not be relegated to mere lip service or treated as a fleeting buzzword. It must become an unwavering commitment, a cornerstone of every news organisation’s ethical and operational framework.

The reasons for this heightened sense of urgency are manifold. The rise of authoritarian regimes, the weaponisation of misinformation, and the increasing hostility towards independent media create a perfect storm for those seeking to silence critical voices. Journalists are targeted not only for their reporting but also for their very existence as purveyors of accountability and truth. This is not hyperbole; it is the grim reality of our times.

The stakes have never been higher

The world faces complex challenges, from the ongoing war and civil unrest to the deepening climate crisis. Navigating these issues demands accurate, informed reporting that holds power to account and exposes injustice. Silencing journalists is akin to extinguishing the very torches that illuminate these dark corners. It is a blow not just to the media but to every citizen’s right to know and to hold their leaders accountable.

Safeguarding journalists with real action

So, what can news managers do to safeguard their journalists in 2024? The answer lies not in empty pronouncements but in concrete actions that prioritise reporter safety and well-being. Here are some crucial steps:

  • Risk assessment and training: Implement robust risk assessment protocols to identify potential threats and provide journalists with comprehensive training on safety measures, digital security, and trauma mitigation.
  • Psychological support: Recognise the emotional toll of covering dangerous stories and provide access to mental health resources to help journalists cope with stress and trauma.
  • Legal and advocacy support: Offer legal assistance to journalists facing legal harassment or prosecution and actively advocate for press freedom at national and international levels.
  • Technology and equipment: Invest in secure communication tools, encryption software, and protective gear to minimise journalists’ exposure to physical harm.
  • Transparency and accountability: Foster a culture of open communication within newsrooms, where journalists feel empowered to raise concerns about safety without fear of reprisal.

A collective responsibility

Safeguarding journalists is not just the responsibility of news managers; it is a collective obligation. Governments must uphold their commitment to press freedom and create an environment where journalists can operate without fear or intimidation. Civil society organisations, media watchdogs, and the international community must also play their part in raising awareness, advocating for journalist safety, and holding perpetrators accountable.

In 2024, let us ensure that the safety of journalists is not a fleeting hashtag or a forgotten promise. Journalism is not a crime. It is a service to truth, to justice, and to the people. Let us protect those who stand guard, for in doing so, we protect ourselves.

About Post Author

ACME Mwalimu

The African Centre for Media Excellence's training unit, known as ACME Mwalimu, scours news platforms and online resources to curate the best training tips and resources for journalists and media organisations, empowering them to become impactful contributors to public debate and development. If you have a training tip or question, you can reach out to ACME Mwalimu at training[at]acme-ug.org.
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ACME Mwalimu

The African Centre for Media Excellence's training unit, known as ACME Mwalimu, scours news platforms and online resources to curate the best training tips and resources for journalists and media organisations, empowering them to become impactful contributors to public debate and development. If you have a training tip or question, you can reach out to ACME Mwalimu at training[at]acme-ug.org.

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