Risk assessments & security.
Completing a risk assessment and security protocol form
The following guidance equips freelance journalists to identify potential risks to their safety and security, classify threats and put measures in place to mitigate risk.
Photo: Kumar Shrestha | © B.B. Funyal
Completing a risk assessment and security protocol form before beginning an assignment will help to manage and minimise risks and enable an appropriate response to an incident or emergency on location. Start the assessment at the beginning of the assignment and use it as an essential tool and checklist to ensure all elements of preparedness have been considered prior to travel, and in pre-empting and handling all potential scenarios that may come up 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 and current local knowledge is extremely valuable; however, be mindful that people and organisations have different thresholds of risk. Oter 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 assessment, 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 carefully consider and weigh the perceived risks against the editorial (and other) benefits of the assignment.
Each journalist and assignment faces a unique set of circumstances – the risk assessment and security protocol consideration should be treated as guidance only and modified accordingly.
Download the Security Protocol Guide below for further guidance.