Sustained threats to journalists’ safety demand fresh approach

CPJ launches Emergencies Response Team to promote and advance journalist safety

New York, February 21, 2017–Much work remains to be done to improve journalists’ security in the face of unprecedented threats, including the spread of violent non-state actors, the shrinking rule of law, resurgent authoritarianism, and an industry shift toward reliance on freelancers, the Committee to Protect Journalists found in a report released today. Journalists, news outlets, and press freedom groups must find approaches that go beyond traditional training and advocacy, which is why CPJ has launched a new Emergency Response Team.

“The past six years have been the deadliest and most dangerous for journalists since CPJ began tracking attacks on the press, particularly with new threats by violent political and religious groups and organized crime. We rely increasingly on international freelancers and local journalists for frontline reporting, and they are often poorly paid and vulnerable,” said Robert Mahoney, the report’s lead author and CPJ’s deputy executive director. “Governments that care about free speech, the news industry, and journalists themselves should follow the recommendations in this report, which will go a long way to meet these challenges and promote better safety for front-line reporters.”

CPJ’s Emergencies Response Team will provide comprehensive support to journalists at risk by supplying information on existing and developing threats and promoting safety through the development of risk assessment mechanisms and contingency planning. When information and prevention are not enough, the group will work as a crisis management team. CPJ will work with partners around the world and with the ACOS Alliance, which stands for “A Culture of Safety” and promotes the Freelance Journalist Safety Principles.

Central to the team is CPJ’s new journalist safety specialist, Colin Pereira. Pereira is a director at HP Risk Management, a consultancy assisting companies and media organizations operating in fragile environments. Previously he was head of security for ITN and deputy head of BBC High Risk Team. He is based in London.

Another member of the Emergencies Response Team is Ramy Ghaly, CPJ’s inaugural James W. Foley Fellow. Ghaly served as an infantry medic with the U.S. Marine Corps. The fellowship was created in honor of freelance conflict journalist James Foley, with support from the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation.

The Emergency Response Team disseminates information through frequent safety advisories, and maintains a list of CPJ partners and external resources, as well as in instructions about how to contact CPJ to get help.