No fewer than 30 journalists lose their lives around the globe yearly in the course of discharging their duties, data by the committee for the protection of journalists (CPJ) revealed.
Disclosing the frightening situation during a two days zoom conference on improving the capacity of small newsrooms in Nigeria to report in the season of COVID-19, organized by the International Center for Investigate Reporting (ICIR), Dayo Aiyetan, executive director of ICIR, called on journalists to be security conscious especially while reporting in hostile or unsafe environments.
He noted that data provided by CPJ indicated that from 1992 to date, no fewer than 1,200 journalists were killed in line of duty while in 2017 alone, 34 were killed adding that about 200 journalists are detained globally at any given time.
Aiyetan appealed to journalists involved in investigative reporting to be extra vigilant as their phones and e-mail addresses may be intercepted or digitally monitored by the state.
He noted that two major events including the 9/11 terrorist attack and the incursion of the internet have brought significant changes in how the media operate calling on journalists to equip themselves with IT knowledge in order to remain above board.
Aiyetan noted that the incursion of COVID-19 has also presented another veritable challenge to the media ecosystem, adding that reports indicated that about 374 journalists have died across 48 countries within the span of 4 months.
He urged journalists especially those covering terrorism, national disasters, fires and accidents, riots and civil disobedience, crime and corruption etc to be extra vigilant in the course of discharging their duties as they may easily fall victims of circumstances.
Aiyetan also urged such journalists to conduct risk assessment putting into consideration all possible hazards they could face and how to deal with them; determine if the situation could escalate while on the beat; develop alternative plans and to always have an exit strategy.
He noted that the risk assessment is vital to the execution of a successful investigative work because the report couldn’t come to fruition if the person conducting it dies in the process of compilation.
Also in his presentation, Dr. Theophilus Abbah, director of Daily Trust foundation harped on the need for journalists to remain above board and ensure carrying out well researched and evidence based reporting so as to avoid libelous suits and to maintain a solid reputation of integrity.
He noted that for the work of the journalist to be effective, it should be seen to have the needed integrity otherwise, the media risks losing its credibility to unfounded stories.