Safety of journalists

Press freedom and the space for independent media are under threat, as stipulated in various UN resolutions addressing journalist safety. UN Sectary-General Guterres stated that ‘civic space has been shrinking worldwide at an alarming rate. And with anti-media rhetoric on the rise, so too are violence and harassment against journalists, including women … When media workers are targeted, societies as a whole pay a price.’  Governments practise legal intimidation and censorship of dissenting voices, also in the digital space. Criminal gangs threaten those who report on corruption. The result is that journalists exercise self-censorship, leave the profession, disappear into exile or stay silent. This is a deliberate attack on civic space that requires a cross-cutting approach to safety of journalists.

This Safety Resource Space is the place to find information on the safety of journalists. It includes information on Free Press Unlimited’s safety-related activities, background information on the safety of journalists, practical resources, and best practices and examples of successful projects and approaches.

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Latest updates
Totem courses available in Arabic
On 7 September the Totem Project released five courses that were contextualised and translated into Arabic. The courses have a special focus on Iraq and Syria’s difficult contexts for activists and journalists facing digital threats.

New online course: Know Your Trolls
The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) created a course on online harassment for Totem, helping journalists to identify and prepare for online harassment, abuse and threats. It is available in English, French and Spanish.


Credit: Free Press Unlimited/Joris Bulckens

Introduction to safety

Free Press Unlimited believes that a safe work environment is a basic need for independent media. It is imperative that journalists carry out their work free from violence and free from obstruction. A commitment to safety cuts across all of Free Press Unlimited’s activities.

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Credit: Marloes van 't Pad Bosch

Dimensions of safety

Free Press Unlimited believes that safety should be approached as a comprehensive concept that has physical, psycho-social, digital and legal dimensions. As these dimensions of safety impact on each other, it is important to adopt an inclusive approach, that also takes gender into account.

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Credit: Free Press Unlimited/Joris Bulckens

Four pillars of safety

Free Press Unlimited directs its efforts to address safety along four different pillars, being support to journalists in distress, capacity development, tools and resources, and advocacy and campaigning.

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Credit: Romy van den Boogaart

International instruments

Free Press Unlimited’s work on the safety of journalists builds upon a number of key international instruments, which reflect international commitments to further the safety of journalists.

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Credit: Sandro Weltin

Networks and coalitions

Free Press Unlimited works together with other like-minded organisations in a number of international networks and coalitions in order to contribute towards journalist safety, both locally and internationally.

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Evidence base: Safety of journalists

Found 34 Results | Page 1 of 3
Source Year Country Author Type
Journalism & the Pandemic: A Global Snapshot of Impacts 2020 Global International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) & Tow Center for Digital Journalism report
Impact of the 2015 Universal Periodic Review on Press Freedom in Nepal 2020 Nepal Meenal Thakur policy recommendations, report
A Gathering Storm: The Laws Being Used to Silence the Media 2020 Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Europe, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom Index on Censorship report
Breaking the Silence 2020 Europe Index on Censorship report
Hostile Bytes; A study of online violence against women journalists 2019 Pakistan Media Matters for Democracy research report
Women’s rights: forbidden subject 2018 Global Reporters without Borders research report
Journalism in Bangladesh during Corona Pandemic 2020 Bangladesh South Asia Center for Media in Development (SACMID) book
Media Pluralism Monitor 2020 2020 Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Eastern Europe, Estonia, Europe, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom - European University Insitute briefing, media landscape assessment, policy brief, research report, trend report
Women Journalists and Freedom of Expression: Discrimination and gender-based violence faced by women journalists in the exercise of their profession 2018 Americas Inter-American Commission on Human Rights report
‘This can save our lives’: safety training for El Salvador’s local journalists 2019 El Salvador Free Press Unlimited story/stories
Nicaragua: psychological support for Confidencial’s journalists 2019 Nicaragua Free Press Unlimited story/stories
Righting Gender Wrongs: A Study of Law Enforcement Responses to Online Violence Against Women 2018 India IT for Change research report