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Empowering Journalists: Training for Safety and Reporting

I strongly believe that all journalists should undergo such training, as it provides invaluable insights and practical skills.

by TNN Editor - 18 Jul, 2023 1543
empowering-journalists-training-for-safety-and-reporting

Khalida Niaz

We often hear the saying that the learning process continues throughout our lives, from the moment we are born until the day we pass away. As a journalist, this rings particularly true, as every day and every hour presents an opportunity to learn something new. Journalism is a field that constantly demands growth and learning.

Within this journey of learning, certain moments, events, and experiences leave a lasting impact on us. Some of these experiences may be bitter, while others are pleasant, but they are all unforgettable.

Recently, I had such a pleasant experience while delving into the world of Virtual Reality (VR). This encounter was so remarkable and captivating that it will forever remain etched in my memory.

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In Islamabad, I found myself transported to the UK, covering a protest alongside Ravi, thanks to the power of virtual reality. While I had heard about virtual reality before, I had never had the opportunity to truly experience it firsthand. However, a few days ago, I was fortunate to participate in a training session organized by Head Set for journalists.

This training not only provided us with the chance to explore advanced technologies like virtual reality but also focused on our safety during coverage. We received first-aid training and had the opportunity to practice these crucial skills. It was an enriching experience that broadened our horizons and equipped us with essential knowledge to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of journalism.

Practical Exercises in Virtual Reality Training

During the training session, we were immersed in practical exercises using virtual reality to learn how journalists can protect themselves from threats and ensure their safety during coverage. The scenarios presented were designed to simulate real-life situations and equip us with the necessary skills and knowledge.

In one scenario, we witnessed Ravi, a journalist covering a protest in the UK, but he wasn't physically present at the location. Ravi was overwhelmed with work and exhaustion, yet he hesitated to communicate his need for rest to his editor. As a result, he became engrossed in phone calls, oblivious to the dangers lurking around him. He soon found himself in a perilous situation, facing aggression from the protesters. Unfortunately, incidents like these are common for journalists in our country too. Many times, they fail to adequately prepare and find themselves at a disadvantage while reporting.

Another scenario transported us to an area affected by extreme weather, where a team of journalists was covering a flood. This exercise aimed to highlight the precautions that journalists should take when reporting on natural disasters or similar topics. We learned how to prioritize our safety and the well-being of our team members. It emphasized the importance of preparedness and the necessary precautions to mitigate risks.

Through virtual reality, these lessons became more tangible, enabling journalists to understand and internalize them more easily. I strongly believe that all journalists should undergo such training, as it provides invaluable insights and practical skills.

Additionally, the training covered an essential aspect of journalism in the digital age – digital security. We explored the potential mistakes journalists can make and the consequences they may face.

In today's era, digital security holds the utmost significance since people can exploit vulnerabilities online. We witnessed a scenario where a reporter working on a sensitive subject fell into the hands of the authorities. This segment emphasized the precautions journalists need to take when reporting on sensitive topics in the digital realm. Such knowledge is crucial as journalists face the risk of abduction, putting their families through agonizing ordeals.

Prioritizing Journalists' Well-being and Mental Health

The training session also emphasized the invaluable importance of journalists' lives over breaking news. We were taught how to minimize risks and prioritize our safety before pursuing a story.

As journalists, we often find ourselves covering distressing events such as bomb blasts, accidents, fires, and crimes, which can have a profound impact on our mental well-being. During the training, we received guidance on how to address the effects of these experiences on our mental health. The trainers stressed the significance of seeking physical and mental health treatments, underscoring the need for journalists to prioritize their well-being.

We are accustomed to working tirelessly, rarely taking breaks, and finding it difficult to refuse assignments, even when we are exhausted. However, the training emphasized the importance of recognizing our limits and setting boundaries. It encouraged us to listen to our bodies and learn to say no when necessary. Although it may be challenging to find the courage to decline tasks or assignments, it is crucial to our well-being.

Empowering Journalists with First-Aid Knowledge

In addition to digital security and risk minimization, the training also provided comprehensive first-aid training for journalists. We learned essential life-saving techniques, such as controlling bleeding and identifying different types of bleeding. We were equipped with the knowledge and skills to effectively respond to emergencies and save lives.

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The training covered various scenarios, including recognizing signs of respiratory distress and administering CPR to restore breathing. We learned how to perform chest compressions on children and maintain airflow for an unconscious individual. Additionally, we were trained in responding to drowning incidents, electric shocks, heart attacks, and injuries sustained in the field.

One valuable aspect of the training was understanding how to enhance security when working with foreign journalists or teams visiting Pakistan. We learned how to ensure their safety and shared important considerations for their assignments. This was particularly enlightening for me, as it provided insights into the needs and expectations of international colleagues.

Overall, the training opened my eyes to new knowledge and skills that are crucial for my role as a journalist. I am determined to put this newfound understanding into practice, incorporating it into my work to improve both my safety and the quality of my reporting.