Supporting freelance safety
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We are really pleased to announce that this month Freelancing for Journalists became a signatory of the ACOS Alliance (A Culture of Safety). We believe safety of journalists is paramount - particularly freelancers - who may not have the same amount of protection as staff journalists.
We spoke to Elisabet Cantenys, executive director of ACOS Alliance, to find out what the organisation does and how it can support our readers.
Hi Elisabet! Can you start by telling us what ACOS is?
The ACOS (A Culture of Safety) Alliance is an unprecedented coalition of news organisations, journalist associations and press freedom NGOs working together to champion safe and responsible journalistic practices. Our mission is simple - we want to embed a culture of safety across newsrooms and among freelance and local journalists globally.
Why was ACOS set up?
The idea of ACOS was formed in the summer of 2014, shortly after the brutal killings of freelance journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff in Syria. A group of news editors came together in New York and Chicago to discuss how they should respond to the horrific deaths of James and Steven and take steps to better protect and promote the safety of freelance journalists - most of whom were working without any official safety net.
During the following months, a volunteer committee from Frontline Freelance Register, Reuters, The Associated Press, the Dart Center, GroundTruth Project and the Overseas Press Club drafted the Freelance Journalist Safety Principles (“The Principles”), a set of guidelines that news organisations and freelancers should expect as standard working practice. The six organisations whose representatives drafted The Principles became its first signatories. The ACOS Alliance was created soon after to build support for The Principles and help freelancers, local journalists and media organisations implement them.
That’s fantastic. And how has ACOS developed over the past eight years?
Since then, the Alliance has grown substantially - Freelancing for Journalists is our 133rd signatory - while the safety challenges facing journalists have become increasingly sophisticated, widespread and complex. Safety for journalists today is not just about physical threats and first aid and it’s not limited to those covering conflict. It encompasses digital security and surveillance, online harassment, legal threats such as lawsuits and SLAPPS, and psychological safety and well-being. Safety is an issue for all journalists, whether they are on the frontlines in Ukraine or desk-based in the UK.
As a result, ACOS champions a broad, holistic approach to safety and we work collaboratively with our signatories to open up safety training to freelancers and increase the number, range and quality of training and educational opportunities available to them.
What kind of training do you offer?
To date, more than 1700 journalists in over 50 countries have benefited from our free Safety Training Initiatives, which range from four-day HEFATS to one-day workshops. (We issue regular calls throughout the year. Sign up to our newsletter and/or follow us on Twitter or Instagram for news of these and other opportunities.)
Our Freelance Safety Clinics, held regularly at festivals including Photoville and the International Journalism Festival, both in-person and remotely, have so far given 200+ freelancers access to free, one-to-one tailored safety advice from world-leading security experts.
Our online Safety Resources created by ACOS and our signatories are full of practical information and advice to help freelancers and newsrooms improve their safety skills and practice. They include templates, tools, online courses on essential safety topics including:
Insurance (including affordable high risk policies for freelancers and local journalists)
On top of this we provide training for editors so that they can work more safely and professionally with the freelancers they commission, and convene cross-industry working groups to raise the standards of safety training for journalists and tackle urgent safety issues.
Anything else you would like to add?
We believe that safety practice should be an everyday part of journalism practice - not an add on, but a habit that informs research, story pitching, assignment planning and publication. We also believe that community is an essential element of safety, especially for freelancers who don’t have the ready-made support structures provided by a media organisation or newsroom. That’s why we are so pleased to welcome the Freelancing for Journalists community into the Alliance. We look forward to working with you all.
What’s coming up
Our Quick Guides are on sale for one more week! To celebrate National Freelancer Day we decided to offer a 30% discount for the whole of June! Pick up our digital guides on pitching, finding work, branding and finances for just £3.50 each.
We are taking part in a Women in Journalism Agony Aunt session for freelancers with the brilliant Donna Ferguson and Heidi Spalding on July 4, 6pm. It will be an hour long Q&A where you will have the opportunity to get live feedback on freelance dilemmas. Come along and ask us about thorny subjects like getting paid, dealing with tricky editors and selling the same subject more than once.
Tickets are £7.50 for members of Women in Journalism and £15 for non-members.
Don’t forget we’d love to hear your feedback on this newsletter. What can we improve and what other features would you like to see? Complete this quick survey and be in with the chance of winning our complete set of freelancing guides.
Triumph of the week
We had a lovely chat with Jenny Stallard on the Freelance Feels podcast and talked about how we set up FFJ and why we never argue. Take a listen here.
That feeling when
You bust a gut to hit a deadline, send it off, and then silence….
We love to hear your feedback on everything we do, so feel free to drop us an email anytime at email@example.com
Bye for now!