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Editor and Publisher
DISPATCHES FROM THE WAR ON DEMOCRACY
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) tracks hazards, threats, assaults, murders and governmental/law enforcement actions taken against international members of the press. CPJ also provides resources and continuing education for journalists reporting on conflicts, including violent clashes that plagued the United States in recent years. “We know from our research that journalists covering extremist groups, including white supremacists, the far right and far left are exposed to a series of threats and dangers, and they need to prepare for that. The safety aspect is crucial,” according to Carlos Martinez de la Serna, a program director at CPJ. For reporters covering radicalized groups, it’s important to minimize personal exposure online, he added, noting that any digital link to friends and family members may be exploited and used for retaliation. Beyond the verbal attacks journalists endure at protests and demonstrations, they also face dangers associated with rioting and arson, the firing of rubber bullets and other projectiles, being subjected to noxious gasses, armed attacks and ambushes. In addition, there is the potential for vehicles to be turned into weapons and the possibility of being arrested and detained by law enforcement — despite proper press identification. CPJ offers extensive guidance on how to report from physically dangerous situations. Here are just a few of the tips Martinez de la Serna shared: If violence is anticipated, don protective gear, such as goggles, helmets and body protection. In addition, pack a respirator and a small first-aid kit. Hire unarmed security and/or work in teams. Never report alone at a crowded event or protest. Carry and display your press credentials and know your legal rights for any state from which you’re reporting. Minimize the amount of gear you’re packing. Wear clothing that allows you to blend in and move swiftly. Plan an escape route and strategy. Establish an emergency rendezvous point. Identify and record the closest places to get medical assistance if you need it.