National Press Club

Panelists advocate safety in numbers, situational awareness for journalists in dangerous areas

July 2, 2019 | By Anne Bader |

Journalists must maintain situational awareness and should work in teams to keep safe in potentially dangerous situations, panelists at a June 28 workshop on safety for journalists said.

The event was co-sponsored by the National Press Club’s Journalism Institute and the National Press Foundation.

Chase Ford, senior instructor with Orbis Operations, who conducted a session on situational awareness, urged journalists to “pay attention to what is happening around you and get distance between you and that dangerous event.”

Danny Spriggs, vice president of global security for AP, said “We advocate working in teams; without that 360-degree you are putting yourself at risk.” If necessary, AP recommends activating a GPS tracking system.

AP journalists are issued tools and personal protective gear for hostile and natural disasters, Sprigs said. They take a three-day course that includes including active shooter training. The journalists also go back for refresher courses.

“Repetitive trainings are critical.,” he said.

Nadine Hoffman, deputy director of the International Women’s Media Foundation, advised journalists to avoid working alone. She also recommended wearing Identification, informing others of where you're going before you go out and using door and personal body alarms, pepper spray, and where legal, tactical pens.

In a session on cybersecurity, Traci Schweikert, vice president human resources for Politico, said people don't spend enough time focusing on personal safety.

“How much time do we spend on safety and self-care? Most people downplay it," Schweikert said. "Don’t! Keep your private details and your public details separate. Don’t take pictures in front of your house number; check your bios for personal information.”

As a resource she recommended 10 Basic Steps to Cybersecurity and the Citizen’s Lab Security Planner.