The idea of producing a safety guide for journalists had not quite taken root when we came together as a media working group. Our primary interest then was to explore the media landscape to find out the status of journalists’ safety and protection when discharging their duties. It was the astonishing results of the subsequent National Baseline Survey on Journalists’ Safety and Protection that motivated and guided our foray into the complex but essential realm of safety and protection guides.
With funding from the Kenya Media Programme, which is a programme of the Dutch humanist organisation, Hivos, our first step was to consolidate the findings of the baseline survey and its recommendations. We then delved into a sampling of international safety guides for journalists and tried to discern their common denominators. Finally, a working draft in hand, we sat with various media representatives drawn from a broad spectrum of the industry – field correspondents, newsroom journalists, editors, and media executives/owners, journalists and editors associations – to review the draft. The feedback helped improve the draft, which we finally presented to a select representative group of the industry for input and validation.
The content in the following pages is the result of that exhaustive but decidedly rewarding process and while we would like to think we have covered all possible angles, we are aware that some areas may require deeper focus. This manual is being offered as a living document, to be adjusted and updated to respond to the inevitable changes in our society.
The project is divided into two parts. The first is a national Protocol, which sets the framework for the safety guide. Alongside the Protocol is what we consider a critical corollary, a 10-point Charter for Media Owners and Managers, which commits them to a number of obligations intended to make the journalists’ environment safer than it is currently. It is hoped that as many of them as care for the safety of their human capital will sign the charter and thereby give this whole project some practical meaning. The second, and larger part, is taken up by a discussion of practical and tested guidelines that journalists can and should adopt to secure their safety.
For this seminal and groundbreaking project, we are grateful to the Kenya Media Programme and Hivos, without whose support and encouragement we would not have been able to undertake let alone accomplish the task. We are also grateful for the encouragement we received from the media owners/executives, editors and journalists with whom we interacted to test our hypothesis and validate our many assumptions. We hope the manual will serve its intended purpose and that it will form a valuable addition to the curricula of journalism training schools.