Defending journalism book series

Shared responsibility: Safeguarding press freedom in perilous times

Lessons learned and new approaches to media safety – this IMS study looks at the safety challenges our partners face reporting in some of the world’s most dangerous political contexts and explores practical and proactive solutions to support press freedom for all.

In the face of increasing threats that journalists encounter from state and non-state actors, collaborative efforts are making headway to improving safety of journalists (SoJ). Stakeholders are working through institutional mechanisms, coalitions, national plans of action and partnerships to implement robust approaches that not only respond to threats and attacks against journalists, but also proactively address conditions that make practicing journalism a risky profession.

Building on previous IMS research and drawing on country experiences predominately in Afghanistan, Colombia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Somalia and The Philippines, this report identifies the challenges for developing national plans for SoJ and how stakeholders are tackling them. Five major points addressed in this report concern gaining engagement by state actors in SoJ, uniting and focusing efforts of disparate stakeholders into a durable, well-anchored structure, increasing commitment by the media sector to SoJ, integrating a gender perspective throughout SoJ mechanisms and supporting stronger tools for combating impunity.

The respective chapters look at how building trust, engagement and collaboration between state and civil society actors is integral to the establishment of a durable multi-stakeholder framework. Institutions for anchoring mechanisms, such as National Human Rights Institutions, are discussed alongside the common pitfalls on the road to building coalitions. The frequent failure of media outlets to support SoJ both as advocates and in their in-house treatment of staff and freelancers is additionally addressed together with the fact that safety does not necessarily have to come at a large price tag. Furthermore, this report seeks to gain a better understanding of how gender-specific threats and concerns can be integrated into safety mechanisms. The mixed track record that state and international mechanisms have in achieving justice with respect to widespread impunity in attacks against journalists are looked at in the closing chapter, which argues for a stronger international approach to impunity.