AJR  Features
From AJR,   June/July 2010

Protecting Journalists   

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project has begun a push to implement safety policies in newsrooms where journalists are at risk for the work they do. Here are some of the guidelines.

By Sherry Ricchiardi
Sherry Ricchiardi (sricchia@iupui.edu) is an AJR senior contributing writer.     

Reporting procedures for dangerous meetings:

    Reporter should meet source in public location visible from a public area.

    Another reporter or editor should monitor the meeting by observing at the site or electronically.

    Hand signal should be established with reporter for use should he/she be in danger.

    Police or security should be on call.

    There should be a way to track reporter's whereabouts.

Procedures for travel:

    Avoid organized crime-owned hotels.

    Don't talk about the story anywhere.

    Be aware if you are being followed.

How to handle threats:

    Report threats to editors immediately.

    Try to get as much information from caller as you can about why you are being threatened.

    Tape the call if possible. If not, immediately write down everything you remember.

    Do not argue with the person making the threat, joke or be macho. Tell him you have no control over the story and ask if he wants to talk to your editor.

    Depending on credibility of the threat, editors should consider putting story on hold, changing reporters, sending reporter on vacation until situation cools down or bringing in security personnel.

    While threats might slow down or temporarily stop reporting, OCCRP must continue, finish and publish all stories.

    In the event of the loss or injury of a reporter, OCCRP must finish the story.