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27 Jun 2012
By Helena Williams
• INSI has recorded the deaths of 73 journalists and media staff in the first half of 2012, with a further 23 cases under investigation. In June, a number of conferences, talks and debates were held around the world to explore ways to improve the safety of journalists.
• INSI Director Rodney Pinder took part in the 10th Austin Forum on journalism in the Americas held May 20-22 in Austin, Texas. The focus this year was safety and protection for journalists, bloggers and citizen journalists. The biggest-ever forum attracted more than 70 participants representing the Caribbean and most countries in the Americas as well as journalist support groups. The deadly dangers faced by hundreds of journalists in the region - especially in Mexico, Brazil, Honduras and Guatemala - were highlighted dramatically when one reporter in Mexico was quoted as saying he needed a gun - not to protect himself but to take his own life rather than be kidnapped, tortured and cruelly murdered as has happened to dozens of colleagues. Speaker after speaker said criminal cartels had infiltrated governments and security forces throughout the region, leaving journalists with little protection as they sought to uncover wrongdoing in their societies. "We are living in terror," said a former Veracruz photojournalist whose father and brother were murdered by unidentified gunmen. Pinder urged journalists to take more steps to protect themselves as they could not rely on anyone else. Solidarity is critical and safety training a must. He urged journalists, managers and owners to work together to exchange realtime safety information and organise professional hostile environment training. INSI stands ready to help.
• INSI's News & Projects Officer Helena Williams also attended a panel on the protection of journalists at the twentieth session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 20. Based on reports by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Frank La Rue, and UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Christof Heyns, the panel said that journalists should be given special protection because of the dangerous nature of their work and rising levels of impunity. La Rue highlighted the increasing violence against journalists working outside of conflict zones and noted that violations against journalists covering street protests and demonstrations were at an all-time high. He said journalists covering corruption, drug trafficking, demonstrations and environmental issues were most at risk from attack with impunity from both state and non-state actors.
• INSIUK has been formally set up in London as a charity in order to raise funds for INSI's safety work on behalf of journalists in danger worldwide. Founding trustees are Richard Tait, former editor-in-chief of ITN; Monique Villa, CEO of the Thomson Reuters Foundation; Stewart Purvis CBE, Professor of Television Journalism at City University in London and former CEO of ITN; Jeremy Bowen, the BBC's Middle East Editor; Professor George Brock, Head of Journalism at City University and past president of the World Editors Forum; Gerbrand Hop, a commercial and investment banker; Richard Sambrook, a former BBC journalist and news executive and now Director of the Centre for Journalism at Cardiff School of Journalism; and Mark Thompson, a journalist and news executive with over 22 years experience of reporting, editing and management.
• INSI's global Executive Board met in May and welcomed new members Amy Selwyn, Managing Director of News Xchange, and Caroline Drees, General Manager of Thomson Reuters Middle East and Africa. The Board decided that this year's Annual Meeting will take place in Barcelona at 1800 on 14 October, the eve of News Xchange 2012. The agenda will be advised but meanwhile please take note of the date and time.
The full list of INSI Executive Board members is on our website.
• Separately, INSI has been monitoring the safety of journalists during two major events in the past month – the Eurovision Song Contest in Azerbaijan and the Euro 2012 football competition in Poland and Ukraine. INSI issued a safety advisory for journalists working in Baku amid fears that there would be a crackdown by the authorities on critical journalists and bloggers after the glitzy song competition; A safety advisory was also issued after civil unrest in Warsaw when Polish and Russian fans clashed after a football game.
• Deputy Director Hannah Storm was invited by Jon Owen of City University's journalism school to address a group of undergraduates visiting from the Indiana University about INSI's work and specifically about our women's safety book. The discussion touched on a number of different safety challenges facing the next generation of journalists and helped reignite the discussion about the importance of a safety module for journalism schools, something we will be following up with those who attended.
• ‘No Woman’s Land: On the Frontlines with Female Reporters’, the first book dedicated to the safety of women journalists, was covered in Women’s ENews when an excerpt of journalist LA Times journalist Tina Susman’s contribution was published.
• INSI teamed up with New York based Anastasia Photo, an art gallery specialising in International Documentary Photography and Photojournalism, to showcase a Paolo Pellizzari exhibition. Pellizzari is famous for capturing crowds and human landscapes. The exhibition runs from June 6 to August 31 2012.
• After a successful launch on World Press Freedom day, the INSI Blog has had thousands of hits. The blog features articles by the INSI team and guest writers from around the world covering a broad range of topics involving media safety and security – from experiences of working as a local journalist in Afghanistan to advice on how to protect your work online. If you would like to write for us, please get in touch.