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
New UNESCO data added
Recently the 2020 UNESCO DG Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity was published. The Physical safety and Legal safety pages have been updated to include the newest data.

New online course: Keep it private
IWMF created a course on online privacy for journalists for Totem (in EN and ES). The goal of this course is to get journalists thinking about privacy and the information they share online, and to provide them with practical tips on how to better protect themselves and their family.


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 37 Results | Page 3 of 4
Source Year Country Author Type
Fear, Trauma and Local Journalists: Cross-border Lessons in Psychosocial Support for Journalists 2019 Latin America, MENA, South and Southeast Asia International Media Support (IMS) report
Newsroom Best Practices for Addressing Online Violence Against Journalists 2019 Finland, Germany, Poland, United Kingdom International Press Institute report
Legal Responses to Online Harassment and Abuse of Journalists: Perspectives from Finland, France and Ireland 2019 Finland, France, Ireland OSCE - Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media & International Press Institute report
Online Harassment of Journalists: Attacks of the Trolls 2018 Global Reporters Without Borders report
Violence and Harassment against Women in the News Media: A Global Picture 2014 Global IWMF report
Attacks and Harassment: The Impact on Female Journalists and Their Reporting 2018 Global IWMF report
The Safety of Women Journalists: Breaking the Cycle of Silence and Violence 2019 Afghanistan, Colombia, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Somalia International Media Support (IMS) report
Journalists and Safety Training: Experiences and Opinions 2017 Global Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma Research Lab report
Making Secondary Trauma a Primary Issue: A Study of Eyewitness Media and Vicarious Trauma on the Digital Frontline 2015 Global Eyewitness Media Hub report
CAR Reporters Flee for their Lives 2017 Central African Republic Free Press Unlimited story/stories
Defending Journalism: How National Mechanisms Can Protect Journalists and Address the Issues of Impunity. A Comparative Analysis of Practices in Seven Countries 2017 Afghanistan, Colombia, Indonesia, Iraq, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines International Media Support (IMS) report
An Attack on One is an Attack on All: Successful Initiatives to Protect Journalists and Combat Impunity 2017 Global UNESCO/IPDC case study/ies, story/stories