Environmental reporting has been described by Eric Freedman, chair of the Knight Center for Environmental Journalism at Michigan State University, as “one of the most hazardous beats in journalism.” That’s because reporters covering the environment often tackle sensitive issues or stories involving influential businesses, criminal activities or high-risk incidents, like land-use conflicts.
The perils come at a time when press freedom globally is under attack, increasing fears among journalists, according to the latest index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
“The number of countries regarded as safe, where journalists can work in complete security, continues to decline, while authoritarian regimes continue to tighten their grip on the media,” RSF says in the introduction to its 2019 report.
In recognition of the growing threats facing environmental reporters, the Earth Journalism Network conducts workshops on security and safety that provide participants with a better understanding of the threats they’re likely to face, from physical harassment or assault to online risks, such as hacking or invasion of information privacy, and what they can do to protect themselves.
In these two videos, security trainer and former journalist Red Batario talks about some of the threats currently facing journalists and offers five tips on how they and their colleagues can better protect themselves.
Red Batario is a former journalist who runs the Center for Community Journalism in the Philippines, which helps journalists address safety issues.
EJN has introduced more activities around safety and security over the past year, based largely on feedback from the journalists within its network -- which now includes more than 6,000 members – and on work carried out as part of a project supported by the Environmental Defenders Fund.
During the safety training at EJN’s recent Training of Trainers in the Philippines, several of the reporters in attendance shared their own experiences dealing with safety and security challenges, and the security experts who led the day-long sessions offered tips on how they and their colleagues can better protect themselves.
Watch them talk about their experiences in the videos below.
Filipina journalist Imelda Abano talks about the threats facing women reporters.
Samison Pareti, is EJN's content coordinator in Fiji, where he also manages a monthly news magazine, Island Business, that covers Fiji and the Pacific Islands. In this interview, Pareti talks about his detention by the Fiji police in February 2018.