MISA Zimbabwe statement on journalism safety and security
06 Jul 2016
MISA-Zimbabwe urges journalists to acquaint themselves with the safety and security measures of the profession as they cover the ongoing protests.
Fundamentally, journalists should conduct environmental scans to determine and assess the risks and exit routes before venturing into hot spots that could endanger their lives.
The first line of defence and responsibility of journalists is respect for truth through accuracy, fairness and reporting both sides of the story.
This entails the inclusion of many voices to authenticate the story thereby assisting the public in coming up with balanced views on events that shape their daily lives and how best they can deal with the issues at hand.
The police and other security arms of the state should also ensure the safety of journalists as they conduct their lawful professional duties as enshrined and protected by the constitution.
Journalists should, therefore, be familiar with the following safety measures and professional responsibilities as they cover the ongoing protests or any other potentially violent situations:
- Check and recheck-check and recheck the facts to avoid being sold dummies by those with hidden agendas.
- Search for new voices, views, comments and explanations from diverse news sources.
- Journalists should respect the confidentiality of sources as provided for in the constitution.
- Journalists should not be purveyors of discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, tribe, ethnicity, language, religion or political affiliation.
- Never venture into hostile environments alone, you should always hunt in packs.
- Journalists should rally behind one another especially where it concerns the unlawful arrest, detention or assault of colleagues.
- Know when to retreat when covering volatile situations.
- Journalist’s whereabouts should always be known by the news editor or close family member for easy contact in case of an emergency.
- Assigning editors should ensure the safety of their journalists and discourage unwarranted risk-taking on the part of the journalist.
- The news editor should be briefed unstintingly on the danger of a given assignment.
In conducting their lawful professional duties and responsibilities , journalists should always be mindful of the old adage: No story is worth dying for.