Far too many journalists in the field are endangered by their work but may not have the proper training or support to save themselves or avoid countless threats, hence the need for safety courses in university media curricula.
Short courses for professionals are inadequate and mitigating risks has become a necessity, Media Unlimited director Magda Abu-Fadil and other experts in the field told academics at a workshop in Amman in January 2015.
The event was backed by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and grouped media school deans and faculty members from Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan and Iraq.
The two-and-a-half-day workshop was a team effort including journalist, trainer and safety expert Clare Arthurs, who brought a wealth of experience to the table.
Safety for journalists isn’t limited to conflict zones, wars and terrorism. There are natural disasters, epidemics, and other events that put journalists’ lives in danger.
An exercise in risk assessment seems an afterthought, or a luxury at best, although it should be second nature to news organizations.
Abu-Fadil’s and Arthurs’ combined journalism background added weight to the argument as did that of Princess Rym Ali (formerly Rym Brahimi of CNN who covered the start of the Iraq war in 2003 and was expelled from Baghdad with colleague Nic Robertson).
After marrying Jordan King Abdullah’s brother, Prince Ali, and giving up her journalistic career, she founded the Jordan Media Institute where the workshop was held.
The workshop’s outcome and ultimate course design will be tailored to the needs of various educational systems, contexts and languages in the Middle East/North Africa region, and eventually worldwide. It will also be made available online for easy access to all those interested in helping safeguard journalists.