The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) is encouraging newsroom leaders to take preemptive action to ensure that the safety of journalists is protected in the wake of increasing threats made against reporters covering the ongoing trucker’s convoy.
This week, the CAJ has been alerted to several troubling incidents from journalists in the field.
Journalists have received death threats littered with racist epithets. Others have been spat on and verbally and physically harassed. In another case, the windows of a CBC/Radio-Canada news cruiser were broken. The CAJ considers all of these actions unacceptable.
“Without a doubt Canadians have the right to protest as a key component of our democratic process,” said CAJ president Brent Jolly. “Efforts to dehumanize and intimidate journalists from telling stories in the public interest, however, is antithetical to the very notions of ‘freedom’ that are being sought through this protest.”
As the convoy continues in the coming days, the CAJ encourages newsrooms covering this event to discuss how best to ensure the safety of journalists. Some suggestions to ensure the personal safety of reporters may include:
- Filming or photographing from a distance rather than approaching the crowd
- Working in pairs or small groups
- Consider assigning reporters with prior experience covering conflict zones
- Conducting interviews over the phone
- Minimizing professional equipment that could attract attention or heavy equipment that may make it difficult to relocate quickly
- Using unmarked vehicles in place of more noticeable media logo-emblazoned vehicles
- Avoiding live hits from the protest
- Ensuring editors are doing regular check-ins with reporters if/when they are in the field
- Having a discussion before assignments about when the safety risk requires withdrawal and pre-identifying safe withdrawal locations
- Putting editors on speed dial
- Prioritize your safety as a reporter above trying to get the story
The CAJ encourages journalists looking for additional guidance to consult resources from the following organizations on covering protests: Committee to Protect Journalists, Society of Professional Journalists, the Poynter Institute, and the Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma.
“In light of the escalating tensions, we are encouraging reporters and newsroom managers to think of creative alternatives allowing coverage of the protest while protecting journalists being targeted by violence from being hurt,” said Jolly. “It is in times like these — when fringe groups, individuals, and rogue politicians threaten a free press — that citizens rely on us to do our jobs.”
For more information contact:
President, Canadian Association of Journalists