What is the hazard? Who is at risk? How can journalists be physically, mentally, and practically resilient? These questions encapsulated the online media policy dialogue organized by Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development (AIBD) and UNESCO on 21 January 2020.
The online dialogue was part of a series of events developed by AIBD with the support from UNESCO International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) to address the issues of the safety of journalists especially in disaster and post-disaster situations.
There was a strong focus on being resilience in a holistic manner during the discussion. This included the importance of mental health, an area that is often overlooked in the discussions of the safety of journalists.
Alistair Hollington, a safety consultant based in the United Kingdom and a speaker during the event, stressed the importance of being “physically, mentally, and practically resilience” and to be able to “recover quickly”.
Karen Percy, Chairperson of DART Asia Pacific based in Australia, noted the “high level of exposure to trauma in journalists” who are often the “first responders” in many disaster situations. She also urged everyone not to forget about “the extended team including the editors, translators, technical operators” who also go through the same traumatic events.
Other speakers including Dr. Abeer Sa’ady, an Egyptian journalist and trainer, shared stories of women journalists who often experience double harassments and attacks as a journalist and as a woman. Matt Brown, Deputy Editor of Australian Broadcasting Corporation, said that news organizations should ensure there is a “culture of health, safety and well-being” and employees should be encouraged to report potential safety issues to their employer.
The media dialogue was the first in the series of actions organized by AIBD with the support of UNESCO. The series will also cover topics on preparedness and risk assessment, trauma management, digital security, as well as first aid training and negotiation skills in 2021.
UNESCO is the UN agency with a mandate to promote freedom of expression, press freedom and safety of journalists. The IPDC established in 1980, is the only multilateral forum in the UN system designed to mobilize the international community to discuss and promote media development in developing countries. It has since supported over 2000 projects in 140 countries.