January 30, 2020—As news coverage increases of the U.S. 2020 presidential election campaign, the Committee to Protect Journalists today released safety resources for the media. The safety kit includes information for editors, reporters, and photojournalists on how to prepare for assignments and how to mitigate and prepare for digital, physical, and psychological risk.
CPJ has found that globally journalists are at increased risk during elections. CPJ and the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker have documented incidents of online and verbal harassment and even cases of journalists being physically assaulted while covering elections and political rallies in the U.S. In response, CPJ Emergencies developed a general election safety kit in 2019, and country-specific election kits for Guatemala, India, and South Africa.
“Elections can heighten the chance of attacks on journalists, so we want to make sure they can easily access safety information. The U.S. has a high level of press freedom compared with many countries, but journalists still face threats, particularly when covering politics,” said Maria Salazar Ferro, director of CPJ Emergencies. “The goal with this kit is to help journalists mitigate risks ahead of time, so they can feel informed and prepared. We want journalists to be able to do their job safely, so they can concentrate on the real work of covering important stories and informing the public.”
The kit includes a checklist for editors assigning stories, safety tips for covering rallies, and information on ways to minimize the risk of online harassment. Journalists with further questions can contact CPJ via firstname.lastname@example.org, and journalists can report incidents to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker, or contact the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Legal Defense and FOIA Hotline at 1-800-336-4243 or email@example.com.
In addition to providing safety advice, CPJ is communicating with campaign staff, convention organizers, and local government officials to ensure policies and procedures protect journalists and their right to report.