CPNE – Media Ethics and Journalists Safety Project
This project is based around four thematic areas i.e. Ethical journalism, psychological risks, physical and digital security. The idea is to raise awareness and train journalists so they could develop a self sustained community that upholds ethics in journalism, can cope up with psychological trauma and burn-out, anticipate and mitigate physical and digital risks.
Journalism ethics and standards comprise principles of ethics and of good practice as applicable to the specific challenges faced by journalists. Historically and currently, this subset of media ethics is widely known to journalists as their professional “code of ethics” or the “canons of journalism”. The basic codes and canons commonly appear in statements drafted by both professional journalism associations and individual print, broadcast and online news organizations.
While various existing codes have some differences, most share common elements including the principles of—truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability—as these apply to the acquisition of newsworthy information and its subsequent dissemination to the public.
Psychological risks faced by Journalists
Journalists, especially reporters who cover conflict and disaster, are as vulnerable to stress and trauma as other professionals, from rescue workers and disaster counselors to combat soldiers. Reporters often work alone in the field, with limited support. The results can be tragic when stress rises to debilitating levels and goes untreated. Journalists may abuse drugs or alcohol and struggle in their marriages and personal relationships. They may endure, often silently, such recurring problems as lack of sleep, hyper-arousal or emotional numbness.
Trauma, when sustained and serious, can affect the performance of journalists, shorten their careers or require sick leave. News organizations have a long-term interest in making sure that journalists are aware of trauma and can access counseling. A trauma program needs to be part of an organization’s efforts to promote employee well-being and health in the workplace. Newsrooms have an ethical obligation to establish such programs, since it is they who send journalists into the field.
Physical and Digital Security Challenges faced by Journalists
Journalism can be a risky business. Reporters covering violence necessarily work in unsafe circumstances, and news organizations have to worry about getting sued for defamation or sanctioned by one government or another. But there are less dramatic but equally grave risks created by the ubiquitous use of digital communications technology, from email to camera phones. If one of your colleagues uses weak passwords or clicks on a phishing link, more sophisticated efforts are wasted. But assuming that everyone you are working with is already up to speed on basic computer security practice, there’s a lot more you can do to provide security for a specific, sensitive story.
If you know that your work as a journalist will involve specific risks, you need a specific security plan. This work begins with thinking through what it is you have to protect, and from whom. This is called threat modeling and is the first step in any security analysis. The goal is to construct a picture—in some ways no more than an educated guess—of what you’re up against.