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Insider safety tips from Libyan freelancers

Insider safety tips from Libyan freelancers

There’s one group of people that understand the safety challenges for Libyan journalists better than any other. That’s you - the freelancers.

In the following pages, you will find the best way to prepare for these challenges by completing a risk assessment, communications plan and proof of life document. These are essential documents that should always been completed before any assignment or job.

But first, we thought it might be useful to start with a few basic pointers from experienced Libyan freelancers themselves. Here are some top tips to help you stay safe:

  • Focus on two things: self-awareness and situational awareness. Who are you - and what does that mean in the place you are now?
  • Your life is always more important than any story. It’s better that you stay safe and lose one story, than lose them all.
  • Make sure you protect the privacy of your sources - safety isn’t just for journalists, but also the public who help you do your newsgathering. You can find more advice on working safely and ethically using public sources here.
  • Don’t travel without your phone or another means of communication. Make sure there’s always someone who’s in contact. Remember, you’re in most danger when no one knows where you are.
  • Enquire and do proper research about the situation in a place you’re going to work, even if it’s a place in your area that you know well.
  • When you’re actually on assignment, be trustworthy - don’t hesitate and change your mind too often, and don’t get emotional.
  • Make sure you’re always finding new ways to maintain your emotional stability, even when times are hard.
  • Sometimes you shouldn’t let people know that you’re a journalist, unless you’re 100% sure that you’ll still be welcome where you are right now. Sometimes it’s easier to pass as a student, researcher or a something like that.  
  • When you’re on assignment as a photographer, you should always be thinking of your body as more important than any of your kit. Remember, your best lens is actually your eye.
  • In Libya, you’re a journalist 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You have to be aware of the risks this brings at all times - not just on assignment - and build it into your life.

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