BY Sue Inglish

New INSI chair supports call for UN journalists' safety representative

It is a great privilege to be asked to chair INSI and to develop the vital role which the organisation has played in the area of media safety since its formation in 2003, most recently under the chairmanship of Richard Sambrook. 

In the past few years many more organisations around the world have become involved in this field, working in different ways to promote the safety of journalists whose job places them in harm’s way.

It is increasingly important that we work closely together and for that reason, INSI’s members have agreed to support the campaign by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) for the creation of a special UN representative for the safety of journalists.

Journalists continue to be killed in the course of their work

There have been many UN resolutions on protecting journalists and combatting impunity over the years but journalists continue to be killed in the course of their work. INSI’s own research, Killing the Messenger, recorded the deaths of 49 media workers in the first six months of 2016. The goal of the campaign is to focus effort and establish a concrete mechanism to act quickly and decisively to enforce international law against those who harm journalists.

INSI should always seek to develop partnerships where appropriate with other bodies working in the field of news safety. We already have close relations with a range of other organisations but there is more to be done in this area.

INSI’s primary role will continue to be providing strong practical, current advice and information for our members and others involved in on-the-ground newsgathering and journalism. INSI provides a forum for networking and information sharing amongst members around the world via our membership portal, members-only alerts and advisories,  and through regional face to face meetings.

The membership portal has shown its value in recent months with real-time information on safety and security issues at the Rio Olympics, terrorist threats and the growing concerns about online harassment of journalists.  We are planning webinars and master classes in the near future on current, relevant topics.

INSI’s research projects also benefit  our members

As a result of a request from one of our members we are working with the world-renowned expert Professor Anthony Feinstein researching the emotional and psychological effects on journalists of covering the refugee crisis in Europe. Our results will be published later this year with good practice guidelines for news organisations on deployments of this kind. This work may also be of benefit to other non-news NGOs who deploy teams to humanitarian crises.

INSI is a London based NGO but one of our key aims in the next 12 months is to widen our membership base to make it more international and to better reflect the wider media world, including more press and new media outlets. Working with our director Hannah Storm, I will be actively looking for new members who can benefit from our services and make us more relevant to journalists around the world.

All of us who work in the news business share the belief that access to free and independent news and information is the foundation and cornerstone of free and democratic societies. Courageous and honest journalism is needed more than ever and the dangers faced by journalists will not diminish.

INSI’s role in providing the best possible up to date information about security and safety issues enables journalists and news organisations around the work to understand the risks and take sensible precautions to mitigate the dangers faced by reporters. Developing INSI’s strengths and extending its range will be a key priority for me whilst I am chair. 

Image by AFP.