Reporters who cover conflicts without the backing of news outlets have a new source of community and financial support.
Membership in the Frontline Freelance Register, or FFR, is now open to all freelance print, photo, digital, radio and video journalists reporting in conflict zones or outside their own countries. The registry is an independent entity supported by London's Frontline Club Charitable Trust.
“A lot of freelance journalists that end up hurt or in horrible situations get accused of being reckless,” says Anna Day, a founding board member of FFR and an independent journalist in the Middle East. “So we are looking at how to take constructive steps forward, to fight for the safety and protection and responsibility of this industry. And to show that the vast majority are not reckless.”
Each registered member has a profile on the FFR site that is visible to other members. Members must also sign a code of conduct, which expresses their commitment to industry-established safety standards.
Members commit to complete recognized industry first aid and hostile-environment training courses, carry protective ballistic clothing while reporting, adequately plan and prepare for assignments, complete a risk assessment, leave next of kin details with FFR, and more. They also agree to uphold and defend the highest ethical standards when reporting.
The code allows journalists to see the precautions expected of them by colleagues, Day says, and encourages a commitment to high standards to avoid putting themselves or others in danger.
The FFR team is working in tandem with a number of journalist safety organizations. Its primary goal is to find donors to help reduce the costs of trainings and insurance.
“Hostile environment training and health insurance are two things the industry hasn’t been willing to consistently provide for its freelancers,” Day says. “And these are things we need to be safe.”
Register at frontlinefreelance.org.