11th October 2005
Members of the Chartered Institute of Journalists at their annual general meeting in London at the weekend, urged employers to make safety their top priority when sending journalists to cover public order incidents.
Institute members relayed first-hand experience of incidents where photographers had been deliberately targeted by members of the public.
“It is no longer acceptable for employers to be ignorant about the sharp end of the job,” said photo-journalist and Chairman of the Institute’s Photographic Division, Paul Stewart. “In today’s environment we are finding attacks on journalists becoming more prevalent, and organisations should take more responsibility for their staff when sending them into potentially explosive situations.”
The AGM voted to remind news organisations that to send their staff into dangerous situations without adequate training or protection may be considered to be in contravention of health and safety regulations.
“For the sake of a few hundred pounds a kevlar stab-proof vest could be provided, which could save lives and a lot more expense should a journalist become injured,” said Barry Beattie, Chairman of the Institute’s Freelance Division. “Violent incidents can flare without any warning on seemingly quiet jobs, and protective vests should be considered part of every journalist’s basic working equipment these days.”