The pandemic, Capitol insurrection and racial justice protests have challenged the security of journalists. The National Press Club Journalism Institute is providing a checklist of precautions that can protect journalists from physical harm and law enforcement encounters while reporting unrest.
Below we have provided precautions to take in advance of reporting and a wallet-sized journalists’ safe card to carry while reporting.
Before you’re in the field:
- Carry a personal government-issued ID, such as your driver’s license, and your journalism credential and cash.
- Carry the cell number of your lawyer, reporting team in the field and editor, and also have them programmed into your phone. Consider writing the lawyer’s # on your arm.
- Set up a group text with your reporting team in the field before you arrive on-site so that you can text ‘arrested’ or ‘injured’ to one group. If you are going into the field by yourself, arrange to check in regularly with someone by text.
- Remove sensitive data from any device you are carrying, disable fingerprint scanner. Consider carrying a burner phone.
- Bring backup power for devices.
On the scene:
- Team up with another journalist, even if they’re not from your news organization. Put each other’s contact information in your phone.
- Have an exit strategy.
- Keep your camera/phone/recorder running if confronted by police.
- Ask to speak to a public information officer.
- Do NOT resist.
If injured or arrested:
- Text your on-site team at ________________
- Phone your editor at ________________
- Phone your news organization’s lawyer at ____________________________
- RCFP Hotline: 800-336-4243