The dangers of journalism

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Iraq is the most dangerous country to report in, with 179 deaths since 1992, closely followed by Syria (108) and the Philippines.

The casualties are likely to rise in the coming years, with numerous conflicts raging around the world, along with an increasingly unpredictable domestic environment in the UK.

Recent weeks have seen Kazakh authorities implored by the CPJ to investigate the stabbing of press freedom defender, Ramazan Yesergepov. Yesergepov, who spent three years in prison for his work as an editor and who now runs the press freedom group, Journalists in Trouble, was stabbed on an overnight train bound for the capital, Astana. Just days later the CPJ was also forced to call on Kurdish security forces in northern Syria to release Zagros TV journalist, Barzan Hussein Liani. He was detained by security services on May 13 as they patrolled the area outside the town of Rmeilan, close to Syria’s border with Turkey in northern Iraq.

And if this doesn’t make for bleak enough reading, both incidents came the same week Javier Valdez was shot in broad daylight, the latest reporter to fall victim to Mexico’s wave of drug related violence. Valdez hadn’t shied away from reporting on the crime and corruption plaguing Mexico. Following the 23 March murder of Miroslava Breach, a reporter in the northern Mexican city of Chihuahua, he had tweeted:

“Let them kill us all, if that’s the death sentence for reporting this hell. No to silence.”

According to The Guardian newspaper, he was killed on Monday 15th May at midday, a block from the office of Riodoce, the newspaper he co-founded. Valdez had written his own epitaph.

And most recently, Véronique Robert died in hospital in Paris (24 June 2017) as a result of her injuries in an explosion in Mosul. She was caught up in a mine explosion that also killed the Iraqi journalist Bakhtiyar Haddad and the French journalist Stéphane Villeneuve. Samuel Forey, who works for Le Figaro, also suffered injuries to his face and arm.

It’s a bleak situation indeed, making the job of foreign and domestic journalists all the more treacherous.

Many journalists travelling into dangerous locations, from the UK or other countries around the world, are provided with vigorous personal safety training beforehand; Hostile Environment Training (HEAT training) providing them with the skills and knowledge needed to help to keep them alive. HEAT training has never been more important.

Lack of accessible training for freelance journalists

However, access to the training hasn’t been accessible to all. Many of the bodies created to support journalists, such as the Rory Peck Trust, Reporters Sans Frontieres and the Frontline Club have raised the lack of accessible training for freelance reporters as an issue. While journalists who are employed in the traditional sense by a media house will receive comprehensive HEAT training, freelance journalists have historically struggled to access it, predominantly due to its expense, but also due to issues posed by the need to attend a residential course, usually lasting around five days.

The problem has continued to gain ground in recent years as the freelance media community steadily grows.

A credible, effective alternative

Journalism has never been more vital, but no reporter should ever enter a hostile environment without HEAT training, equipped with the knowledge and personal safety skills to keep themselves and others safe. Earlier this month we launched HEAT training online. Using our innovative Near-Life™ technology, we have created a means for any journalist to access crucial HEAT training that could save their life.

We have worked alongside expert security advisors, Blue Mountain Group and the Resilience Advisors’ Network, to create a credible, effective alternative to traditional face-to-face, role play-led training.

Accessible from any location and at a fraction of the cost of ‘traditional’ training, Resilience Academy makes HEAT training available to as wide an audience as possible.