THE Internet has softened the formerly hard boundaries of the journalistic community to include people such as bloggers, videographers and citizen journalists who carry out journalistic work for evolving media networks. As the scope and span of the field grows, so too it seems do the risks, with the Internet throwing up the newer challenge of the need to protect digital security. Research undertaken by the international Committee to Protect Journalists shows that on the average, 30 journalists are murdered around the world every year. Further, it sheds light on various facets of the risks faced by journalists of different media; for instance, about half the journalists that are in jail at any given time work primarily online, while beat reporters covering politics, crime, corruption and conflict are particularly vulnerable to attack or detention. Yet not all journalists facing potential risk have the support network crucial to their security.

Realising this gap, the CPJ launched on Thursday an interactive Journalists’ Security Guide which provides a blueprint for news professionals’ physical and digital security. Topics addressed include preparing to cover an armed conflict, measures to protect oneself, sources and family while covering organised crime and corruption, and to protect digital information. In creating the guide, the CPJ has done valuable work for journalists across the world, including those in Pakistan. The issues faced by journalists here are no different to those anywhere else, and are in fact rendered all the more grave by the country’s unique circumstances, such as militancy in the north-western parts, terrorism in the urban areas and the tactics of intimidation and coercion used on occasion by religious, political and other groups. Yet a guide such as this ought not take the pressure off media houses to train and amply equip their staff to protect themselves. Journalists undertake vital and dangerous work, and must be supported through institutional and other means.

Originally published here.

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