Completing a risk assessment and security protocol form.
Photo: Kumar Shrestha | © B.B. Funyal
The following guidance is for local and international freelance journalists of varying levels of experience. It provides an outline of considerations in completing a Risk Assessment and Security Protocol, with advice on basic preparedness though to high risk threat assessment and complex issues of digital security. It equips freelance journalists to identify potential risks to safety and security, classify threats and put measures in place to mitigate risk.
Completing a Risk Assessment and Security Protocol before beginning an assignment will help to manage and minimise risks, and enable an appropriate response to an incident or emergency on location. Treat it as a friend and companion throughout the journey of an assignment. Start it at the beginning of the assignment and use it as an essential tool and checklist to ensure all elements of preparation have been considered prior to travel, and in pre-empting and handling all potential scenarios during the assignment.
Consult as many sources as possible to ensure a thorough understanding of the nature of the threats facing you, your crew, contacts and contributors. Reliable, current local knowledge is extremely valuable; though be mindful that people and organisations have different thresholds of risk. Journalists, NGOs, activists and government agencies will be able to help with this. Online reports and guides are also useful, though beware of sources and dates of publication in assessing if the information is current or warrants consideration.
For each stage of the document, think through every possible ‘What if…? scenario to help identify and classify threats – both the possible and the improbable. Quite often the least expected events or scenarios are the situations that freelance journalists find themselves in on the ground.
Constantly ask yourself. ‘How am I perceived…? and how am I perceiving people, places and situations in assessing safety and security. This is a particularly pertinent consideration for local journalists operating in their home country or area.
Fundamentally, always weigh perceived risks against the editorial benefits of the assignment.
Each journalist and assignment faces unique circumstances and the risk assessment and security protocol should be treated as guidance only and modified accordingly.
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