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How to stay independent

How to stay independent
Photo: Benghazi Chronicles

Putting your own independence into practice and staying afloat while staying professional is easier said than done.

By Ayat Mneina

It's one thing knowing that Libya needs a strong independent media - it’s another thing entirely making those personal steps, whether you are new to journalism or have been freelancing for some time. So here’s a checklist you can start putting in place right now.

Verify your information, credit your sources

As long as you’re not compromising anyone’s personal security, your work should be transparent in its use of information. Can you state where you got it from - when, and where? If you’re working in photojournalism, tools like Verifeye can make your own work more credible.

If you need to verify images that you’ve been sent, you might find sites like FotoForensics will help you discover if an images has been doctored. If you’re using a lot of social media sources, here’s some insight into how to make sure you’re not taking gambles.

Remember, providing proper verification to your work and how you’ve researched it is good for Libyan media, but it’s also good for your professional reputation.

Improve your safety and digital security

The better your online safety protocols are, the less susceptible you and your colleagues will be to threats to challenge your unbiased viewpoint. If you’re making the transition into independent journalism, it’s essential that you identify the threats you will face for doing so. This way, when or if they do happen, you’ll be prepared. See our Digital Security resource (in English or Arabic).

To learn how to improve your personal safety, go to the safety section of this resource and start your risk assessment.

Stay part of the Libyan freelance community

Independence doesn’t mean isolation – together freelancers are stronger. It’s crucial that we all communicate with each other, across Libya’s divides, to maintain a core of freelancers who are mutually supportive and look to each other's needs.

Whether it’s through informal networks of colleagues, unions or protection organisations, you can learn more about how to become part of a stronger freelance community here.

Protect the sustainability of your work

This sounds complicated - but it’s common sense. The more outlets that you work for, the more options you have for publishing your work, the less you have to work for people you don’t consider independent.

If you are in touch with a number of media outlets, you can just take your skills elsewhere if you’re not happy freelancing for a particular paper or agency. Financial independence isn’t everything, but it will make your life as a freelancer a lot easier if you can choose who you work for more carefully.

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