BY Hannah Storm

Without journalism safety, there can be no press freedom

Since I joined the International News Safety Institute (INSI) in 2010, hundreds of journalists have been killed around the world. In that time, thousands of our colleagues have courageously continued their work despite frequent threats against them and those closest to them.

Around the world, the dark forces of despots, corrupt politicians and business people, face little in the way of justice if they decide to target the messenger and the rise in vitriol and violence seems to be increasing against our colleagues.

In a year that has been marked by a sea change in the spectre of hatred launched towards media professionals, it’s encouraging to see Time Magazine naming a number of our colleagues as its ‘Person of the Year’. We applaud the publication for recognising the ultimate price paid by Jamal Khashoggi, and for highlighting the 'war on truth', allowing it to become a more central part of public discourse.

This recognition won't bring back Jamal Khashoggi; and it won't bring back the five colleagues murdered at the Capital Gazette, or the more than 60 other media workers killed this year doing their work. It may not make the brave work done by Maria Ressa in the Philippines any easier, and it may not change the plight of our Reuters colleagues Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, imprisoned in Myanmar.

But hopefully, it will bring to light something those of us working in journalism safety have been advocating for years: that without a guarantee of journalism safety, there can be no press freedom and without free press, democracy flounders and with it the ability to hold power to account and speak truth to that same power.

In 2018, truth has become a casualty of war, and journalists have found themselves on the frontline of that conflict, desperately trying to protect that truth, at times faced by a relentless bombardment by those who care little for the role journalists have historically played. 

We care. At INSI, we work every day to support members of the news media to ensure that journalists everywhere can continue to do their work out of harm’s way and stay safe physically, psychologically and digitally - and we will continue to do so.

Watch our interview with one of Time Magazine's 'Person of the Year' Maria Ressa.

Image by AFP