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Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

Rory Peck Trust launches new resource for Libyan freelance journalists

The Rory Peck Trust has launched a new resource for Libyan freelance journalists, as part of a two-year project supported by the UN Democracy Fund (UNDEF). “Freelancing In Libya” contains practical tools, information and guides to help Libyan journalists operate safely and professionally in an increasingly insecure and volatile environment.

With chapters on “The Business of Being Freelance”, “Safety and Ethics on Assignment” and “How to Grow Professional and Protection Networks”, the aim of the resource is to help Libyan freelances produce high quality, non-partisan news and current affairs coverage in a safe and sustainable way.

“Today’s generation of Libyan freelances emerged during the 2011 revolution where they were able to report freely and openly for the first time,” explains Sarah Giaziri, Programme Officer for the Middle East and North Africa at the Rory Peck Trust. “But most have found it hard to sustain their careers because of the deterioration of independent media outlets and the growing security challenges. There are still important and compelling stories to be told from Libya and we hope this resource will provide its freelances with the skills to bring us these stories safely and ethically.”

Attacks, threats and abductions of journalists are commonplace in today’s Libya as both governments and militia attempt to control the flow of information. In 2014 alone, 29 journalists were kidnapped, according to Reporters Sans Frontieres – more than in both Syria and Iraq – and the Rory Peck Trust’s own survey of 34 Libyan freelances in 2015 revealed that 80% had been threatened during the course of their work. Nearly all of the independent media outlets that sprang up after the revolution have been threatened into closure or exile, and the fear of attack amongst Libyan journalists is leading to self-censorship.

Mentoring scheme

This is the first resource to help Libyan freelances tackle professional and safety issues. It forms part of a two-year project funded by UNDEF aimed at strengthening independent journalism in Libya, which includes in-depth workshops for freelances, the establishment of a mentoring scheme and access to international protection mechanisms.

“It is really important that freelance journalists working every day in Libya have access to the right information,” says Ahmed el-Hadel, a Libyan freelance journalist who attended a recent RPT workshop in Amman. “This is the first time I’ve been provided with training or resources that are focused on producing stories safely. It’s something that’s missing in countries such as Libya, but it’s really vital.”

Annika Savill, Executive Head of the UN Democracy Fund describes the project as “a milestone initiative” for the Fund. “The deplorable rise of extremism, deteriorating security situation and growing restrictions on media in a range of countries, make even more relevant and important the work, courage and safety of independent journalists worldwide. The Rory Peck Trust is uniquely equipped to carry out this project in an environment such as Libya, where the need is acute and the challenges in operating are just as acute.”

“Freelancing in Libya” is available in both Arabic and English.

For social media, RPT suggests using the hashtag #freelancinginlibya