INSI formed to protect journos reporting from battle front

MUMBAI: During the recently concluded Iraq conflict there were heart rending reports of young media personnel getting killed leaving behind families. Now, a global coalition of more than 100 media organisations has announced the formation of the International News Safety Institute (INSI).

The INSI campaign aims at raising awareness of the dangers many journalists face on the job and to support risk-reduction programmes throughout the industry. Founding members of INSI include Reuters, CNN, ABC, BBC, SKY News, Wall Street Journal Europe, and The Statesman.

The Newspaper Guild-CWA president Linda Foley was reported as saying: "At least, 13 journalists were killed during the Iraq war and others lost their lives recently in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the war against terror. These are increasingly dangerous times for reporters on the front lines of these stories, and it is more important than ever that news organisations do everything possible to give journalists proper training and protective equipment before sending them into war zones."

The INSI has launched a website which provides news, safety tips and resources for protecting journalists. The campaign seeks to expand its network of organisations committed to risk reduction, as well as provide an information clearing house, and sponsor forums and events to raise awareness of the issues.

AFTRA President John Connelly said, "Last year, the discovery of anthrax-tainted letters in American newsrooms made it clear that journalists are not only at risk while covering the news abroad -- in some cases, journalists themselves are the targets of attacks. Issues of health and safety are of paramount concern to working journalists whether at home or abroad."

The World Press Freedom Day celebration a couple of days ago was marked by events held around the world, including a formal launch of the INSI programme at the International Press Centre in Brussels, meetings organised by UNESCO in Jamaica and by press freedom activists in London.

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