The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) in collaboration with the Female Journalist Association of Liberia (FeJAL) has embarked on safety training for journalists throughout the country to help in the discharge of their duties.
The project is designed to provide safety tips for journalists deployed to actively cover the electoral activities leading to the October 10, 2017 polls. It has proven that journalists are physically and verbally attacked while preforming their duties during elections as place them in grave danger.
With support from Norwegians Union of Journalists FeJAL both groups have committed to engage in the initiative as means of ensuring safety for journalists in the field, on how to go about covering riots and preparation tips amongst others.
Serving as lead facilitator over the weekend at YMCA in Monrovia, FeJAL coordinator Siatta Scott Johnson said journalists need to be prepared for election coverage and should be knowledgeable on how to handle threatening issues that might ensue during these elections.
"During elections journalists are being targeted for no reason while in the discharge of duties. Therefore, considering these elections the safety of journalists is paramount because if a journalist cannot move freely, he or she is unable to perform his or her duties as its regards to information gathering and dissemination," Johnson stressed.
She explained that safety is the sense of protection in relations to harm without intent, while security is the protection of harm with intent, and as such journalists deployed for election coverage should be given conspicuous identification tags.
During the training, FeJAL coordinator warned journalists to improve their knowledge of the local, religious, and social situations in the country, saying: "a good journalist cultivates safety awareness, just as he or she develops interviewing and investigative skills, think ahead, prepared and observe your surroundings."
Also in a remark, PUL president Charles Coffey urged participants to take the training seriously because skills acquired would allow them do their work without fear and it would enable them escape potential threats with the safety tips provided them.
Coffey encouraged participants to put into practice knowledge learned and lauded FeJAL for the level of collaboration with the union in the implementation of such project.
The objectives of the training is to assist participants in applying realistic and practical knowledge to improve safety and security while covering the upcoming elections and to as well enable participants understand practical safety and to sense security risks and prepare for same.