Television

CNN sinks $ one million to beef up staff security

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CNN has invested nearly one million dollars to step up security and safety training for news personnel stationed in different parts of the globe.

Responding to queries sent by indiantelevision.com, CNN International senior VP Ian Macintosh who is responsible for spearheading the integration of CNN's journalistic activities on all platforms in the Asia Pacific said that incidents such as the kidnap and murder of Daniel Pearl, have made it imperative for organisations like CNN to increase the training and awareness of their newsgathering staff. " In light of this, we recently made it mandatory for all CNN staff members, and our regular freelancers, to undergo hostile environment training," he adds.

While maintaining that CNN has long provided hostile environment training and other security measures for its correspondents, the training has been stepped up with the world becoming an increasingly dangerous place for journalists on assignment. "In the US, CNN has led the charge with dozens of our staff signing up for this safety training. In Europe and Asia, too, a large number of our newsgathering staff have undertaken the training," he says.

With each course lasting a week, and a bill of around $4000 to fully train and equip each staffer, CNN is currently investing close about $1 million. "So far, seventy CNN correspondents, producers and field crews in Asia alone, including our New Delhi bureau team, have completed the course," says Macintosh. This comprehensive safety training programme will enable CNN newsgathering teams deployed in war zones and other hostile or hazardous locations to be more aware of, and prepared for, the environments and circumstances in which they are working. The programme seeks to minimise risks as much as possible by providing staff with the knowledge and awareness needed for the situations they may encounter while on assignment, says Macintosh.

The week-long training modules cover areas such as knowledge of weapons and military activities, mines and booby traps, CPR, advanced first aid, trauma treatment, control of bleeding, personal hygiene, disease prevention, hostage survival and extreme climatic conditions. The course covers not only situations likely to be encountered in war-torn areas but also how teams can operate safely in other hazardous situations such as natural disasters, riots and civil disturbances. Staff are being provided with body armour and other protective gear.

President, CNN International Networks, Chris Cramer who is also the Chairman of News coverage Unlimited, a charity set up to help members of the media recognize and be treated for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) says,"News organisations will have to dig deep in their pockets - CNN has more than 100 staff already trained, but it will have to double that number, at least, in the coming months to fulfill its commitment."

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