Guide for Danger
A new handbook aims to help journalists stay safe while covering hostile overseas situations.
By Michael Duck
Michael Duck is a former AJR editorial assistant.
Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl's murder in Pakistan last year shocked American journalists, leading some to reconsider their safety overseas. A new handbook from the Committee to Protect Journalists could help.
"We're going to try to tell you what you should know before you go into any conflict situation," says author Frank Smyth, CPJ's journalist security program coordinator and Washington, D.C., representative.
The handbook, "On Assignment: Covering Conflicts Safely," points out topics reporters and their editors should consider before going into combat zones (which aren't necessarily, but could be, wars). It touches on everything from health insurance to body armor and lists other resources where journalists can find even more information.
For every foreign correspondent killed in crossfire, three journalists who work for local news organizations in hostile areas are hunted down and murdered, Smyth says. But Pearl's case reminded American journalists that when overseas, they are not immune.
The handbook's goal is increasing awareness, Smyth says. "We're not solving all the problems here, but we're at least...raising the issues."
The handbook is available online at www.cpj.org/Briefings/2003/safety/safety.html. A longer print version is planned for later this year.###