Publishers’ coalition releases Global Safety Principles and Practices for covering dangerous assignments and working with freelancers

The undersigned groups endorse the following safety principles and practices for international news organizations and the freelancers who work with them. We see this as a first step in a long-term campaign to convince news organizations and journalists to adopt these standards globally. In a time of journalistic peril, news organizations and journalists must work together to protect themselves, their profession and their vital role in global society.” Global Safety Principles and Practices

Last week at a Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma event, a coalition of publishers and journalism organizations released a set of Global Safety Principles and Practices intended to guide news organizations in how to work with freelancers and local journalists on dangerous assignments. It’s an ambitious but needed step, as so many deaths reminded us last year.

The document was signed by a host of news organizations from around the world, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, BBC, Agence France Presse, McClatchy DC, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the Overseas Press Club Foundation, National Union of Journalists-Philippines, the Associated Press, and others. It’s a short document, but covers a lot of ground. Poynter has some additional background on the creation of this document.

The first section of the Principles and Practices guides journalists in ways to prepare for dangerous assignments, recommending first aid training, minimum safety gear, and preparations that may assist family and authorities in the case of kidnapping or death. The second section, aimed at news organizations themselves, stresses the disproportionate dangers faced by local journalists and freelancers. It states that news organizations should not contract with freelancers unless the organization can afford the same precautions and responsibilities it does for staffers and that freelancers should be paid on time and in a fair manner accounting for the additional costs of insurance, hazardous environment training, and safety equipment required for reporting dangerous assignments.

The document is a great step forward as conflict reporting increasingly shifts to local journalists and freelancers.

For more information about this subject, visit the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Rory Peck Trust, Global Journalist Security, RISC, International News Safety Institute, and the Frontline Freelance Register.

World Press Photo rejects 20% of final-round entries due to manipulation

When [post-processing] meant a material addition or subtraction in the content of the image, it lead to the images being rejected from the contest…. [T]he jury rejected 20 percent of those entries that had reached the penultimate round of the contest and were therefore not considered for prizes.” World Press Photo Managing Director Lars Boering

The 2015 World Press Photo awards have just been announced, and this looks to be a great year. I haven’t had a chance to go through all of the winners, but it’s nice to see some familiar names in the mix (Glenna Gordon, Andy Rochelli, Lu Guang, Sergey Ponamarev) alongside winners from around the world.

In the announcement of this year’s awards, however, there was a fascinating section on “Integrity of the entries.” Photographers whose work advance to the final round of judging must provide unedited files to the jury to verify the integrity of their images. World Press Photo Managing Director Lars Boering said that 20% of those final round images had to be disqualified from the contest due to “careless post-processing” that led to “a material addition or subtraction in the content of the image.” That’s an eye-opening statistic and sad to hear. Whatever credibility photojournalism has (and it might not be much in the eyes of the viewing public) depends on a commitment to truth and integrity in an image. While those are nebulous concepts–Aristotle, Aquinas, Russell, and other philosophers have been arguing about this for centuries–I think most would agree that “material addition or subtraction” from a still frame is a blatant affront to viewers and to the truth. We should all be alarmed that twenty percent of final-round images had some element of outright fabrication. We don’t have numbers for previous years to compare rejection rates, but this announcement is still sobering.

World Press Photo has taken some heat over the years for awarding apparent photo manipulation. Most recently, there was controversy over Paul Hansen’s 2013 Photo of the Year winning image of two Palestinian children killed in an Israeli airstrike. While that image never struck me as being manipulated, World Press Photo took the criticism to heart. The contest now requires original files for final round images. The organization now also wishes to become a think tank of sorts, providing research and guidance in the industry on this and other subjects. Last year, for instance, World Press Photo published a paper by David Campbell titled “The Integrity of the Image.” Here’s a direct pdf link to that paper.

Worth a read: Journalist recounts her sexual assault by a colleague on her first night in Ukraine

“I was halfway through talking about the political situation in Britain when the Very Respected Journalist called me ‘baby’ (really, people can say that without irony?) and shoved his beer-and-whisky-churned-together tongue down my throat. After unironically ‘baby’-ing me a few more times, the Very Respected Journalist pushed me towards his bedroom…. This was the third country in which I’d cried in a shower and checked my body for bruises as a by-product of trying to become a journalist.” -anonymous, First Night in Kyiv

Last week, Balkanist magazine published an account by a young presumably-British journalist’s of her sexual assault by a colleague on the night of her arrival in Kyiv, Ukraine, to cover the political situation there. The piece is well worth a read, raising important points about what women face working in the male-dominated field of conflict journalism.

Sexual assaults against female journalists are rarely discussed. And while the public should not expect detailed accounts of such personal matters (for instance, Amanda Lindhout’s 460 days held captive in Somalia involved horrors and atrocities some of which she says she’ll never share), sexual violence against female journalists, such as the horrific attack against Lara Logan in Tahrir Square, is an important part of the discussion of dangers faced by reporters around the world.