The intensity of the violence against foreign journalists in Egypt in early February served as a reminder that media personnel often become targets when they are covering unrest. To help protect journalists when they travel abroad, Reporters Without Borders offers:
- Insurance policies covering war risks
- The loan of bullet-proof vests and helmets
- A free “Press SOS” hotline for journalists in trouble
- A Handbook for Journalists
- Training for reporters going to war zones
- Information about the trauma that can result from covering war and disasters, and psychological support.
Insurance policies tailored to journalists’ needs
Because of a lack of information and the prohibitive premiums requested by traditional insurance companies, journalists often set off for war zones and disasters without medical and repatriation cover. As a result, Reporters Without Borders has developed specialized policies in partnership with a Canadian insurance company.
Designed for freelancers of any nationality, or staff journalists not covered by an employer insurance policy, this partnership provides access to policies that include war risks cover. The “reinforced” policy covers reporters who are embedded with a military or government unit.
Signing up for a policy is fast. The only requirement is affiliation to Reporters Without Borders. For more information and a summary of the cover offered by the two kinds of policy, go to: http://en.rsf.org/insurance-for-freelance-17-04-2007,21746.html
Loan of bullet-proof vests and helmets
Thanks to the support of the French defence ministry, in particular, the Office for Defence Information and Communication (DICoD), Reporters Without Borders renewed its stock of bullet-proof vests and helmets in January 2011.
Bearing the word “Press,” this equipment is lent to affiliated journalists, who just have to leave a deposit. More than 30 journalists went to war zones in such countries as Iraq and Afghanistan with these vests and helmets in 2010.
Reporters Without Borders also provides journalists with distress beacons.
Thanks to a partnership with American Express, any journalist in trouble can contact the Reporters Without Borders team immediately, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling +33 1 4777-7414 or by going to any local American Express agency.
Depending on the problem, a Reporters Without Borders representative will provide the journalist with advice or contacts, or will alert local or consular authorities.
Preparation and information
Proper preparation and appropriate information about the dangers in the war zone or area of tension to be visited can help journalists limit the risks they run. The information in the Handbook for Journalists, which Reporters Without Borders wrote in partnership with UNESCO, and the practical training offered by the DICoD are vital resources for any reporter about to leave for a high-risk area.
Protecting journalists in war zones is not limited to ensuring their physical safety. Reporters Without Borders is also concerned about the psychological damage that can result from covering armed conflicts or other traumatic events. In cooperation with experienced war reporters, Reporters Without Borders informs journalists about detecting the trauma that can result from such missions and puts them in touch with professionals who can help them.