Thomson Reuters rejigs journalist training for new security threats
Tuesday 7 June 2011
Thomson Reuters is adjusting its journalist security training and protocols because of a shift from battlefield hazards to civilian threats.
Photojournalist Larry Rubenstein, who recently became general manager for safety and logistics for editorial, said a sexual assault on former Reuters Television producer Lara Logan, now a CBS correspondent, at a Cairo demonstration earlier this year drove home the point that journalists must be prepared not only for the battlefield but also for all of the various new threats they face when covering the news.
“But we’ve been seeing it for some time and are continually reviewing our training,” he told the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. The CPJ issued new guidelines on the threat today.
Rubenstein said the changes in Thomson Reuters’ security training and protocols changes include more training in cultural skills to help journalists navigate chaotic crowds. Security professionals who train journalists say they are adjusting their curriculum to reflect the challenges.
For years, former military personnel – especially British Royal Marines who dominate firms such as Centurion and Tor International – have provided much of the security training for journalists, the CPJ said. But today civilian experts are taking a more prominent role in preparing journalists for risks that are particular to the field, including the threat of sexual aggression on the job.
In the past 18 months, more journalists have been killed covering violent demonstrations and other non-military events than at any time since CPJ began keeping detailed records two decades ago. For decades the overwhelming majority of all journalists killed worldwide, nearly three out four, were murdered outright, CPJ said. Most were local journalists murdered in direct reprisal for their work. Fewer than one in five were killed in combat and about one in 10 were killed covering violent demonstrations.
That seems to have changed, at least for the time being, said Frank Smyth, CPJ Washington representative and journalist security coordinator. The rise of street demonstrations and related violent clashes poses an emerging threat to journalists. ■