BEIRUT: The Samir Kassir Eyes (SKeyes) Center for Media and Cultural Freedom released its Journalist Survival Guide, a video training curriculum for journalists, activists and media professionals working in areas of conflict and other dangerous zones. The guide, which includes 14 animated videos in Arabic and English as well as downloadable scripts in both languages, was designed to serve individuals operating in war zones.
The lessons in the guide are not only aimed at journalists on the ground, but also media specialists, photographers, video editors, activists and others who find themselves in dangerous conflict zones.
Lesson one instructs reporters on how to take cover if caught in the middle of a crossfire, such as taking refuge behind large rocks, buildings or trees, and waiting at least 10 to 20 minutes before coming out. Another lesson outlines methods for protecting sources’ safety, such as how to establish first contact and how to edit video footage. One lesson also shows how to protect oneself from tear gas and what to do once exposed. Many of the other videos center on protecting one’s computer from malware and hacking, ensuring a safe connection, storing sensitive data and maintaining mobile security and social media safety, all of which are deemed necessary for journalists operating in today’s digital world.
Additionally, the guide provides a two-part lesson in basic first-aid practices that could be put to use when delivering assistance to an injured person before professional medical personnel arrive. It also lays out the rules of international humanitarian laws that apply to persons not involved or no longer involved in fighting, including children, the elderly, sick and wounded soldiers, and prisoners of war.
The idea for the project was conceived last year, and the center began designing it in March 2012, said Ayman Mhanna, executive director of SKeyes.
In the initial phases, SKeyes consulted citizen journalists in countries such as Syria and Egypt to find out what the most important issues were in terms of risk and security, and to identify the questions that needed to be raised.
“We wanted to develop a curriculum using low-resolution videos which are easy to download,” Mhanna added. “We partnered up with expert organizations who worked pro bono because they believed in our cause.”
While SKeyes drafted the project, other organizations such as the Lebanese Red Cross – which provided the information for lessons on maintaining personal safety and the safety of others – delivered material in the videos. The Global Center for Journalism and Democracy supplied material needed for the accurate reporting module, while the National Democratic Institute did the same for the computer and online safety lessons. Lebanese production house Kook Creative Studio worked on the animation.
According to Mhanna, the guide has been distributed to almost 5,000 recipients, all on SKeyes’ mailing list, including partner organizations who posted a link to the publication on their websites, ready for downloading and sharing.