Amid spike in threats to US photographers, CPJ shares resources, joins call for accountability

New York, June 17, 2020 — Photojournalists must work on the frontlines and thus face heightened risks when covering protests and civil unrest, as underscored by the recent protests in the United States and separately by CPJ Emergencies’ surveys of photographers. These concerns are highlighted in a new series of CPJ videos that put #SafetyInFocus.

According to CPJ analysis of data collected by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, more than 60 attacks on photojournalists took place during recent protests across America, prompting four major photo agencies, along with CPJ, to write a letter to governors where these took place. The letter calls on governors to immediately open investigations into the attacks, the majority of which were perpetrated by police, and to ensure that all those responsible are held to account.

“It is outrageous that so many photographers and visual journalists have been not just injured, but in many cases specifically targeted, simply for doing their job,” said CPJ Emergencies Director Maria Salazar Ferro. “The risks photojournalists face daily are not new. We have spoken to photographers working from Gaza to Caracas who say they always operate in a high-risk environment. But it is deeply concerning to see the brazenness and scale at which photographers across the U.S. have been deliberately attacked while covering a story of historic importance.”

Each #SafetyInFocus video highlights a specific safety concern based on data collected from a survey of over 500 photojournalists, ranging from physical safety and trauma to sexual harassment and access to insurance. The videos underscore the longstanding nature of the dangers, the need for more research into how identity intersects with safety, and the need for appropriate security guidance, including for journalists of color in the U.S.

The letter from Reuters, Agence France-Press, The Associated Press, Getty Images, and CPJ can be read here, and you can learn about CPJ’s work to protect photographers here.