BY INSI

Securing your newsroom

INSI knows that it’s not just in war zones where journalists can find themselves at risk, and it’s not just war correspondents who have to deal with safety issues. 

Here we offer some considerations aimed at helping you secure your newsroom and lessen the risk of you and your colleagues being compromised at work.

Evacuation

Do you have an escape plan? Do all employees and contractors know where the emergency and other exits are?  Have you made sure the exits are not blocked? Are they secured from outside interference? Have you ensured they cannot be used as an unsecured point of entry to the building?

Access

How easy is it to access the building? Are badges required? Do people enter on an individual basis, or can more than one person enter at a time? Are car-parking facilities secure?

Visibility

How visible is your staff while they are at work/on their way to work/deployed? Does the building (HQ and bureaus) carry your organisation’s logo? Do vehicles used by news crews carry the company logo? Consider that there are occasions when visibility is important and other times when it may be better to be more discreet.

Routine

Have you considered keeping details of editorial meetings confidential, especially if meetings occur at the same time and place each week/day. Is it possible to vary this routine? Do journalists always follow the same routine and routes when arriving and departing?

Location

Are there certain locations within the city, neighbourhood, road and building that should be avoided for offices? Has adequate due diligence been done on the other organisations sharing the building? Has consideration been given to the location of the newsroom (front or back of building, which floor is best)?

Security devices

What security devices do you have in place? What is the cost/value of having a panic button, who would respond to it, and is it always manned?

Communications

Does everyone who works in the building know how to dial out and call emergency services? Is there a dedicated phone number for use in emergencies? Does everyone answering the phone know who to contact in the event of an emergency in the field?

First aid/emergency equipment

Do you have personal protective equipment available at reception?  Are trained first aiders known throughout the company, and is there always someone first aid trained available? Is other protective equipment available, and is there always someone trained in using and deploying it?

Responsibility

Have you ensured your news crews/representatives understand the responsibility they have to not publicise information (geographical, logistical, personal) that might compromise the safety of those involved in covering major stories as they unfold? Are receptionists, colleagues on the news desks briefed with regard to their role in the safety fabric – what they should or shouldn’t say and who they should contact in case of concern? Does everyone know if a crisis management plan exists, even if they don’t need to know the contents?

Alert systems

Are there simple ways of monitoring social media to see if your organisation is being spoken about in a way which may raise its risk profile? Are there organisations who can undertake such monitoring on behalf of media at a reasonable cost or are there ways for media to collaborate on such early warning alert systems?

This advice should be seen as complementary to, not a substitute for, your organisation’s risk assessment, training and contingency plans.

INSI works with members to ensure journalists are able to do their jobs safely wherever and whenever they work, providing practical information about how to plan, prepare and respond to threats. If you want to join INSI please get in touch at [email protected]

Image by AFP