7th -9th December 2020

This years' Safety Coordination Meeting brought together more than 150 press freedom NGOs, news organizations, safety trainers and freelance journalists across three days of dialogue and knowledge sharing.


The meetings allowed ACOS partners and signatories to report back from 2020 activities and lesson learned and define priorities and needs for 2021, with a focus on safety training and initiatives, and coordination.


On Wednesday 9th, ‘Navigating the New Safety Landscape’ offered a public discussion with freelancers and editors about how they had responded and adapted to the new safety challenges of 2020, and their recommendations for 2021. Moderated by David Rohde of the New Yorker, the webinar featured freelance photojournalist Vanessa Charlot; Beth Flynn, Deputy Picture Editor at The New York Times; Guillermo Galdós, freelance filmmaker and Latin America Correspondent for Channel 4 News; and Mike Shum, Freelance Journalist and Filmmaker. 











17th November 2020 

The ACOS Alliance Executive Director, Elisabet Cantenys, participated in a panel organized by Alliance signatories IJNet and HackPack, along with US based freelance photographer Chris Monterrosa and Kashmir based freelance journalist Aliya Bashir, both previous beneficiaries of ACOS Alliance safety training courses. Safety in 2020 and beyond focused on freelance journalists safety issues and highlithed practical resources avalable to freelancers. 


15th November 2020 

The ARIJ Forum moved to a digital format this year and the ACOS Alliance took part in the program through three activities focused on safety.


The Alliance partnered with ARIJ, Frontline Freelance Register (FFR) and Rory Peck Trust to offer three days of one-to-one safety clinics on physical and psychosocial safety aspects for freelance journalists based in the MENA region. 

Together with SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom we offered the webinar 'Contracts are a safety issue too!' with Alex Papachristou, Executive Director, Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice; Sarah Giaziri, Director, FFR; and Elisabet Cantenys, Executive Director, ACOS Alliance. The webinar marked the launch of the Arabic version of the Model Contract Resource

The Alliance also offered a two hour safety workshop for MENA based editors and news managers, lead by Sally Fitton, High Risk Advisor for BBC High Risk Team 
and Jason Reich, Vice President of Corporate Security for The New York Times, both ACOS Alliance board members.   


13th October 2020 

The ACOS Alliance along with four of its signatory organisations Frontline Freelance Register, Gulf Center for Human RightsMarie Colvin Journalists' Network, and SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom are working in partnership to offer 50 journalists based in the Middle East FREE access to a safety training course provided online by experienced media safety trainers at Silk Road Training.


In line with the ACOS Principles, this training course is designed to help journalists exposed to safety challenges in their work to become better prepared through a combination of structured and self paced learning. Selected participants will be able to access Silk Road’s platform over a period of 30 days, from Monday 16 November to Tuesday 15 December 2020. 


Participants will engage with online study using video, interactive presentations, quizzes and course downloads. Each participant with have access to modules covering: Trauma First Aid, Civil Unrest and Terrorism, Personal Security and Travel Safety (including digital security and gender security considerations) and Frontline Conflict Safety.


The course also includes a series of five live webinars that will include interactive scenarios covering life saving first aid, civil unrest, frontline conflict safety and digital security. On completion, each participant will receive a certificate.


To apply, submit our application form (in English or Arabic) by Friday 30 October.  Places are limited so early application is recommended. 

The course is available in English and Arabic.





IPI World Congress 2020
8 October @3.30pm CET 

ACOS will be running an Editors Safety Workshop on Thursday 8th October as part of the IPI World Congress 2020. Participants will learn cost-effective strategies, tips and tools to help them improve their safety practices within the newsroom and among the freelancers they commission. Led by The New York Times' Jason Reich and BBC's Sally Fitton, special attention will be paid to COVID-19 and covering protests. 


The workshop is aimed at editors and news managers who commission stories, films and/or photography and who have direct responsibility for the safety of those they are working with. All participating editors will have the opportunity to nominate two journalists for a virtual safety training course with Silk Road Training, one of whom must be a freelancer.  Spaces are limited and early booking recommended.

Register for the Congress | Email to secure your spot. 

Safety Track Webinars
22 + 30 September + 8 October  

September kicked off a series of safety events organised in partnership with the Freelance Journalism Assembly, Frontline Freelance Register, HP Risk Management and Rory Peck Trust. 

Freelancers based in Europe can sign up for forthcoming sessions on Digital Security led by expert Ela Stapley on 30th September and Contract Negotiation & Insurance led by freelance journalist Anna-Therese Day on 8th October.  Both events take place at 11am CET. The Freelance Journalism Assembly is a project of the European Journalism Centre.  

Freelancers based in Europe can sign up here.

Freelance Safety Clinics & Self-care Workshop 
25-27 September

As a Major Community Partner of this year's Photoville festival, ACOS co-hosted two days of virtual Freelance Safety Clinics with signatories Committee to Protect Journalists and Frontline Freelance Register.  Eleven leading safety experts were on hand for two days giving free virtual one-to-one tailored advice to freelance photographers in 45 minute sessions. 

Participants also had access to a Trauma Resilience and Self-Care workshop led by the Dart Center's Gavin Rees and Al-Jazeera correspondent Juliana Ruhfus.  

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6 September 2020

Once again we're delighted to partner with Women Photograph's annual 5 day workshop and organize sessions dedicated to safety and trauma management. The training will take place on Wednesday 28th October with two slots, including break out sessions, available for applicants in the morning or afternoon. Others workshop events will include sessions on grant writing, bookmaking and contract negotiation, as well as meet ups and community building. 

Women Photograph was launched in 2017 to elevate the voices of women and non-binary visual journalists. Their projects include project bursaries and mentor programs. 

This year's workshop takes place on 17th-21st October. Free registration is open until 15th September 2020.  More information and apply on their website. 




4 August 2020


How can editors and news managers support the psychological safety of all the journalists they work with? Our latest safety resource is here to help. 


Leading Resilience: A Guide for Editors and News Managers is a trauma safety toolkit designed specifically for newsrooms working with freelancers. It contains practical information, tips and guidance to help editors assess trauma exposure among journalist colleagues and contributors and shows them how to plan the necessary action and support. 

The guide is divided into five key sections: Understanding Trauma and Journalism, including signs of trauma exposure and risk factors; Trauma and the Freelancer, which looks at issues that may increase the likelihood of on-going trauma exposure among freelancers; step-by-step guidance on how to provide Trauma Support before, during and after an assignment; trauma Myth-Busting and Self-Care for managers. The guide’s appendix includes Dart’s psychological health and well-being risk assessment and helpful tip sheets. 


Produced in association with 




3 August 2020

The Alliance has joined forces with ACOS signatory WAN-IFRA to offer 20 free online safety training spots for freelance journalists based in Southeast Asia. The bursaries will give successful applicants  access to an online pilot course produced by Key Objectives

The course runs for three weeks, from Monday 14, September 14th to Friday 2, October, 2020 and covers essential safety topics, from planning and preparation, to covering natural disasters and protests. It also includes training in cyber security and first aid. The course combines a series of self-paced modules with video presentations, written content and quizzes, and three live webinars. Selected participants will be able to revisit each module as many times as needed over the period of three weeks. 

Apply here by Friday 28th August.


15 June 2020

The ACOS Alliance offers 50 bursaries to freelance journalists currently covering the protests in the US to access an online safety training course produced by Silk Road Training. We understand the urgency for this training to be made available as soon as possible and we’ll be granting bursaries on a first come basis, providing that applicants are eligible for this course. We’ll be processing applications as these are being submitted and will respond to all applicants as soon as possible. Selected participants will have access to the course in less than 24 hours after being accepted.

Participants must meet the following requirements:

  • Secure access to a laptop, computer or tablet; and a good internet connection. Participants should be able to log in to Silk Road's training platform using a unique password, play videos, download materials, and connect to live webinars (camera and headphones or speakers needed).

  • Be a freelance journalist covering the protests in the US.

  • Priority will be given to those who have not completed a safety training course before, however the course is open to freelancers in need of a refresher.

  • Complete the course in full. The ACOS Alliance and Silk Road are keen to evaluate the impact and performance of this course, and participants are expected to provide comprehensive feedback.


For more information and to apply, access this form.  


June 2020


This webinar explores the opportunities and challenges for freelance journalists in the age of COVID-19. Freelancers Zoe Flood and Melissa Noel join BBC's Africa Eye Managing Editor Marc Perkins to discuss ways in which freelancers can adapt and innovate in the new journalism landscape. The panel was organized by the International Center for Journalists, the International Women’s Media Foundation, ACOS Alliance, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma and the Frontline Freelance Register. Watch here


Posted May 2020


The Alliance offers bursaries for 16 freelance journalists to access an online safety training course produced by Silk Road. Starting on June 1, 2020 selected participants will have free access for 30 days to five online modules covering different thematic areas relevant to working in a hostile environment. The course includes video presentations, interactive presentations, quizzes, 360 degree films and a series of live webinars.

Participants must meet the following requirements:

  • Secure access to a laptop, computer or tablet; and a good internet connection. Participants should be able to log in to Silk Road's training platform using a unique password, play videos, download materials, and connect to live webinars (camera and headphones or speakers needed).

  • Participants don't need a virtual reality headset. If you have access to one, it will enhance your 360 degree film experience, but this is not a requirement.

  • Be proficient in English. The course content is currently only available in this language.

  • Priority will be given to freelance journalists working in hostile environments. The course is open to freelancers in need of a refresher

To apply, please complete this form.


by Andréa Schmidt and Anna Therese Day

Posted April 2020

In this article, ACOS Board members Andréa Schmidt and Anna Therese Day explain the relevance of contracts in making media organizations more accountable, and how the resource they have helped to develop may support freelancers decipher the legalese, propose more favourable terms and negotiate safer, more professional working agreements.


Posted April 2020

The ACOS Alliance has produced a Newsletter with a selection of new resources covering safety advice and funding opportunities, most of them offered by ACOS signatories. Access the Newsletter here. There is an overwhelming number of COVID-19 online resources aimed at supporting professional reporting which can be challenging to navigate. Try not to get lost by staying with what's relevant to you and comes from an authoritative source. 


Posted February 2020


VICE Media offers a limited number of FREE spots for freelance journalists to participate in their two upcoming in-house safety training courses in London, UK. These are two separate courses.

Course 1: Tuesday, March 31st - Wednesday, April 1st, 2020. Basic. Appropriate for any level of experience or refresher if it was never put in use in the field. For freelancers exposed to moderate risk assignments, no previous HEFAT needed. It will not concentrate on some of the higher frontline content, but instead team and gender dynamics, emotional wellbeing, security around petty crime, de-escalation, crowds/riots, active assailants and first aid.

Course 2: Thursday, April 2nd - Friday, April 3rd, 2020. Advanced. For freelancers working in high risk assignments, must have previous field or HEFAT experience. Refresher.


Complete this form by Thursday, March 12, 2020. Participants are expected to make their own travel and accommodation arrangements and cover their own expenses. The ACOS Alliance may support travel costs to a limited number of selected freelance participants. 


Posted December 2019

The Overseas Press Club (OPC) in New York features in their November-December Bulletin five articles highlighting the work of the ACOS Alliance. The bulletin runs a front page piece profiling the ACOS Alliance and dedicates separate reviews to the work the Alliance is leading on insurance and editors' safety training. In 2019, the OPC has supported Hostile Environment and First Aid training courses in Nairobi and Beirut with money raised at their last year’s Annual Awards Dinner. The OPC Foundation serves as the sponsor for ACOS.


Posted December 2019

On December 10, the ACOS 5th Annual Safety Coordination Meeting proved again its growing convening power with more than 90 representatives from news organizations, non-profits and freelancers engaged in advancing a culture of safety across our community. This day-long series of workshops and discussions continue to focus on coordination and safety training, paying particular emphasis on concrete practical initiatives. The Alliance presented resources it has developed as a result of the discussions held at last year's annual meeting: insurance, contracts, news organizations safety self-assessments and the industry standards for safety training initiative.


The Alliance ran a parallel editor's safety workshop to help editors and managers to deal with online harassment and digital security. The workshop was lead by Harlo Holmes, Director of Digital Security, Freedom of the Press Foundation;  Jason Reich, Vice President of Corporate Security, The New York Times; Eliot Stempf, Security Adviser, BuzzFeed; and Viktorya Vilk, Manager Special Projects, Free Expression Programs at PEN America, and counted with more than 20 participants.

The Alliance Trauma Working group held a separate meeting. In partnership with CPJ and the Dart center, this meeting has facilitated transfer of knowledge between key stakeholders, and define priorities and concrete practical initiatives dedicated to address trauma needs taking a collaborative approach.


Posted November 2019

The Alliance offers a safety workshop focused on digital security and online harassment dedicated to editors and news managers on Tuesday 10th December, in New York.


While not a new threat, online harassment continues to have dangerous impact on how reporters can safely and reliably perform their work, especially as newsrooms head into the 2020 election cycle. Please join us for an intensive workshop for editors to learn new strategies to meet this particular attack against members of the press head-on. Topics include how to identify the skills and resources needed in order to prepare the newsroom in advance of any specific threats; how to leverage an IT department for effective rapid response in case of an attack; and how to craft helpful, future-proof policies within the newsroom to take into account ever-shifting technologies, adversarial tactics, and the role of social media platforms. Our emphasis remains on how editors can better support the freelancers they work with.


The workshop is led by Harlo Holmes, Director of Digital Security, Freedom of the Press Foundation;  Jason Reich, Vice President of Corporate Security, The New York Times; Eliot Stempf, Security Adviser, BuzzFeed; and Viktorya Vilk, Manager Special Projects, Free Expression Programs at PEN America.


Limited spaces. By invitation only. If interested, email


Posted October 2019

The ACOS Alliance has partnered with the Foreign Correspondents' Association of East Africa (FCAEA) to offer bursaries for freelance and local journalists based in East Africa to participate in a 4-day Hostile Environment and First Aid Training (HEFAT) course in Nairobi. The course will run from from Saturday 30, November to Tuesday 3, December (both included). The bursaries will cover training fees for a maximum of 16 participants to attend. Selected participants are expected to cover other relevant costs, like travel to and from the training venue in Westlands, or accommodation if coming from abroad. ACOS has a limited number of travel grants available for those based outside Kenya. The course is delivered by SEPAR International. To apply, please complete this from by Thursday 31, October. 


We are also opening this opportunity to news organizations interested in supporting their local stringers and reporters. We are making available a limited number of places for news organizations to cover the training fees at a reduced rate. If you are an interested news organization, email


Posted September 2019

In partnership with WP and Riesgo Cruzado, the ACOS Alliance offers a one-day safety workshop dedicated to women and non-binary photojournalists in Latin America. The workshop is part of a four day program that includes skills-building sessions and portfolio reviews, taking place in Quito, Ecuador this December. Apply here.


Posted September 2019

The ACOS Alliance has participated at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference (GIJC) this September 26-29 in Hamburg. The Alliance Executive Director, Elisabet Cantenys, moderated two sessions dedicated to journalism safety. 'Planning for Safety' provided practical advice for editors and news managers to improve their safety provisions and create a smart and flexible strategy that can be applied to both individual reporters and broader groups of journalists. The session counted with leading managers and advisers: Reg Chua, Chief Operating Officer at Reuters News; Jason Reich, Vice president of corporate security at The New York Times; Glenda Gloria Managing Editor at Rappler; and Harlo Holmes, Director of Newsroom Digital Security at Freedom of the Press Foundation. 'Journalists Under Fire: Strategies and Resources' provided a very informative session about practical support available to journalists in crisis. Octavio Enríquez, editor del diario La Prensa y editor residente de Connectas; Maris Salazar Ferro; Emergencies Director at CPJ; and Catherine Monnet, Deputy Editor in Chief, Reporters sans frontières (RSF) were the speakers for this session. 


Posted September 2019


The ACOS Alliance along with Frontline Freelance Register, Gulf Center for Human Rights, International Women Media Foundation, Marie Colvin Journalists' Network, Rory Peck Trust, SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom and VICE Media are working in partnership to offer bursaries for two consecutive and separate safety training courses in Beirut:

VICE Media three-day HEFAT, running from Monday 25 to Wednesday 27 November 2019. VICE Media offers free spots to freelance and local journalists to participate in their in-house safety training. Selected applicants will participate in their course together with staff reporters based in the region. Freelance journalists in need of a refresher course (who have completed a HEFAT course in the last three years) are welcome to apply to this course.

Five-day HEFAT, running from Thursday 28 November to Monday 2 December 2019. This course will dedicate a full day to digital security. Course available to both English and Arabic speakers. 

These are two separate courses. Course fees and accommodation are covered. A limited number of travel grants are available to eligible applicants based in the region. To apply, please complete this form by Friday 20 September 2019.


Posted August 2019

In August, the Alliance offered a one day safety workshop to a group of selected editors from some of the most dangerous states in Mexico. The workshop was organized in partnership with Article 19-Mexico and IWMF.


Posted July 2019

The ACOS Alliance is participating at the Global Conference for Media Freedom on 10-11 July, in London. Together with the Frontline Freelance Register (FFR) and the Rory Peck Trust, the Alliance has curated the Freelancers Hub, a space dedicated to the safety of freelancers where we hold a series of panel discussions over the course of the two days featuring freelance journalists, producers, editors and safety experts.


The FFR is making its first presentation of key findings from its recent wide-reaching survey The State of Freelancing in 2019 and in an effort to focus on practical solutions, our sessions will deliver practical advice and tools on how freelancers and commissioning editors can better manage dangerous assignments. Please have a look at the Freelancers Hub agenda and follow the conversation on Twitter @ACOSalliance #freelancershub




Posted April 2019

In June, the Alliance is offering a three-hour safety workshop dedicated to editors attending the 2019 WAN-IFRA World Congress in Glasgow. The workshop will run on Monday, June 3, from 9.30am to 12.30pm, and is open to accredited participants of the Congress. To register, please complete this form. You can see the online program for the Congress here


Posted April 2019

The ACOS Alliance is offering a limited number of travel grants for freelance journalist to attend the 2Lives Steven Joel Sotloff Memorial Foundation 2nd Annual Security Training. This fully certified three-day HEFAT course will take place in June 5-7, in Miami, Florida. Course fee and lodging are being covered by 2 LIVES. The ACOS Alliance will provide a limited number of travel bursaries to Central and Latin America or US based freelance journalists in need of safety training due to the nature of their reporting, and unable to cover their own travel costs.  


Apply here by April 19. State in your cover letter whether you need a travel bursary. Applicants need to take care of their visa applications.


The course is provided by Global Journalist Security in English.


Posted March 2019

As part of World Press Photo Festival 2019, the ACOS Alliance, Committee to Protect Journalists, Free Press Unlimited, Frontline Freelance Register and Rory Peck Trust are hosting a Digital Safety Meetup, followed by one-on-one digital security consultations for photojournalists and documentary photographers. These activities will be held the afternoon of Friday, April 12, 2019, in Amsterdam.

The Digital Safety Meetup will address the key digital threats facing photojournalists and documentary photographers, including online harassment. CPJ's Safety Technologist Ela Stapley will advise on mitigating the risks posed by social media platforms. No advance registration is required.


The one-on-one consultations will provide personal, tailored guidance on how to improve digital security skills and other relevant knowledge. Consultations are available for 30-minute intervals and spots are limited. Those interested should submit a request by April 8.

For more information and to apply for a consultation, please use this form.


Posted March 2019

BuzzFeed is offering a limited number of free spots for freelance journalists to participate in their in-house safety trainings in Los Angeles (May 14-17) and New York (October 8-11).

BuzzFeed's four-day Adversarial Reporting Training (ART, traditionally referred to as HEFAT) Class is designed to help journalists more safely pursue aggressive, adversarial reporting and operate in higher-risk environments. It is taught in a seminar style with medical and surveillance exercises to build skill sets and confidence. Modules are assignment-driven and focus on covering civil unrest, natural disasters, conflict, and conducting investigations. Topics covered include digital security, anti-surveillance (both physical and digital), legal considerations and gender-based security issues, alongside traditional instruction on trauma medical care, personal protective equipment (PPE), weapons and vehicle safety. Medical instruction is provided by a highly experienced medic and professor of emergency medicine. 

To apply for the LA course, please complete this form by Monday, April 15, 2019.

To apply for the NYC course, please complete this form by Monday, September 2, 2019.

Participants are expected to make their own travel and accommodation arrangements and cover their own expenses. The Alliance has a limited number of travel bursaries. 


Posted March 2019

The ACOS Alliance and WAN-IFRA are partnering to offer bursaries for local journalists to participate in two separate, fully certified 3-day HEFAT (Hostile Environment and First Aid Training) courses. The bursaries will cover 16 participants in each location (32 total).

The first course will be held in Bali, Indonesia, from April 1-3, 2019. Interested applicants should fill out this form by Friday, March 8. 


The second course will be held in Kampala, Uganda, and will take place May 6-8, 2019. Applicants can fill out this form by Friday, March 15.


Selected participants for each course will be notified by email. 

In line with the ACOS Principles, these courses are designed to help journalists who face risks and safety challenges to be better prepared. The courses comprise classroom and group discussion work interspersed with exercises to build skills and confidence. The Indonesia training will pay special attention to covering natural disasters and elections, while the Uganda course will focus on digital security and first aid. 

The ACOS Alliance and WAN-IFRA are covering the course fee, accommodation and travel to and from the training venues.  


Posted March 2019

The ACOS Alliance and the Associated Press (AP) are partnering to offer two bursaries for freelance or local journalists to participate in a fully certified three-day HEFAT (Hostile Environment and First Aid Training) course in Colombia. The course is mainly dedicated to those covering the conflict in Venezuela, and it will take place from Monday through Wednesday, March 25-27, 2019.

Interested applicants should complete our form by Thursday, March 14

The AP is covering the course fees, while the ACOS Alliance will cover accommodation and travel costs.

In line with the ACOS Principles, this course is designed to help journalists who face risks and safety challenges to be better prepared. The course comprises classroom and group discussion work interspersed with exercises to build skills and confidence. First aid will be taught by an experienced and qualified medic.


The course is delivered by Global Journalist Security. 




Posted February 2019

The ACOS Alliance has reshaped its board of directors to expand the organization’s geographic reach and to draw in an excellent cross-selection of media organizations, non-profit organizations and experienced freelancers.

The seven newly appointed directors are: Mathias Dreissig, editor at Deutsche Welle News in Germany; Sally Fitton, High Risk Advisor at the BBC in the United Kingdom; Elisa Lees Muñoz, Executive Director at the International Women's Media Foundation, based in Washington, D.C.; Finbarr O'Reilly, award-winning freelance photographer and writer based in London; Andréa Schmidt, award-winning freelance journalist and independent filmmaker based in Toronto; Art Sotloff, founder of the 2LIVES Steven Sotloff Memorial Foundation based in Miami; and award-winning photojournalist Daniella Zalcman, based in New York and London.

The new board members bring a wealth of experience in safety issues that directly affect freelancers and local journalists and share a passion and commitment towards the ACOS Alliance mission. “Our board has been a terrific resource for us,” Elisabet Cantenys, ACOS Alliance Executive Director, said. “We are thrilled to welcome these new voices. These appointments will help us to expand our reach in many ways.” 

The ACOS board of directors is carefully balanced among representatives from news organizations, press freedom NGOs and individual freelancers, the three key sectors the coalition brings together to champion safe and responsible journalistic practices and embed a culture of safety across newsrooms and among freelance and local journalists worldwide. ACOS has established principles for the engagement between assigning editors and freelancers in the field. It offers training to both editors and freelancers.

“We have busy times ahead of us, with many practical safety initiatives, from editors’ safety workshops to safety training for freelancers,” Cantenys said. “We are fortunate to add more energy and talent to our board.”


Posted December 2018

On December 10, the ACOS Alliance held its fourth annual coordination meeting at Columbia University in New York. This day-long series of workshops and discussions brought together more than 70 participants representing news outlets, journalism NGOs and freelance journalists.

The 2018 gathering was by far the most participatory of our annual meetings, featuring concrete, substantive sessions including a 3-hour safety workshop for editors, a plenary session outlining the work of the gender working group, a closed-door workshop for grant-makers to discuss safety protocols for freelancers, a session for sharing safety and security plans for 2019, a last-stages discussion for freelancers and news organizations to define a model contract template, and more.

The meeting was an opportunity to move forward on building industry standards for safety training and to exchange ideas for best practices across a variety of fields related to keeping freelance and local journalists safe while they carry out their work around the world.

In 2019, participants of the various working groups that fall under the ACOS Alliance agenda will continue to push ahead with the many resources, tools and ideas discussed at the annual coordination meeting.


Posted November 2018

The ACOS Alliance, in partnership with the Foreign Correspondents' Association of East Africa and the Frontline Freelance Register, is offering 16 bursaries for freelancers to participate in a fully certified two-day Hostile Environment and First Aid Training (HEFAT) refresher course in Nairobi. The course will take place December 12 and 13, 2018. 

This is a refresher course and the expectation is that participants will have completed a full HEFAT course within the last three years. We encourage international freelancers and local journalists based in the region to APPLY HERE. Applicants should fill out this form by Thursday, November 29.

In line with the ACOS Principles, this course is designed to help journalists who face risks and safety challenges in their work to be better prepared. The course comprises classroom and group discussion work interspersed with exercises to build skills and confidence. The course will pay special attention to first aid, taught by an experienced and qualified medic. The training will be conducted in English. 

The ACOS Alliance is covering the course fee and meals for two days. Participants are expected to cover transport to the venue, and travel and accommodation when coming from outside Nairobi or Kenya. 

Posted October 2018


The ACOS Alliance, Frontline Freelance Register (FFR), Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF), Marie Colvin Journalists' Network (MCJN), Rory Peck Trust (RPT) and SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom worked in partnership to deliver two separate safety training courses in Beirut: a 4-day HEFAT (Hostile Environment and First Aid Training) course and a 2-day refresher course. A total of 24 freelance and local journalists across the region benefited from this opportunity.

In line with the ACOS Principles, these two courses were designed to help journalists covering conflict or exposed to safety challenges in their work to be better prepared. The courses comprised classroom and group discussion work interspersed with realistic exercises to build skills and confidence. A vital element of these courses is the medical training, and this course paid special attention to digital security and gender issues.


Posted October 2018

Earlier this month, the ACOS Alliance was invited to participate at the Festival García Marquez. In partnership with the ACOS Alliance’s signatory Fundación Para la Libertad de Prensa (FLIP), the Alliance held a three-hour safety workshop that brought together 20 editors and directors from news organizations in Colombia and across the region. 

Led by ACOS board member Jason Reich, BuzzFeed’s Global Security Director, the workshop addressed relevant safety concerns when working on sensible and risky stories, paying special attention to the vulnerability of freelancers and local reporters. Reich offered valuable practical tools and tips that can be implemented with modest resources or at no cost. In particular, editors welcomed the digital security aspect of the session -- how to enhance safety communications with reporters and sources, how to better protect devices, what a good communications plan looks like. 


At the festival, the Alliance shared a stand with FLIP and CPJ that provided information on safety resources for journalists. At the stand, Reich also offered a follow-up to one of the sessions editors participated in during the workshop. 


Posted October 2018

The Frontline Club, Frontline Freelance Register and the ACOS Alliance have launched the Minimum Standard in Safety Training for Freelance Journalists Initiative. 

News organizations increasingly rely on freelancers and local journalists to maintain their foreign news output, particularly to cover stories from places that are difficult to access and report from. Safety training is now considered essential best practice for journalists working on challenging stories. However, the absence of industry-wide standards on safety training leaves both journalists and outlets at a disadvantage: it discourages freelancers from investing in their own safety skills and, at the same time, it is difficult for news organizations to assess whether a freelancer has done a course that meets their requirements. 

This initiative seeks to address these issues by working with key stakeholders to identify safety training courses which meet minimum requirements that will be widely recognized by the news media industry. This  will encourage freelance and local journalists to make informed decisions about their safety training choices and opportunities. And news organizations will be able to identify freelance and local journalists who have completed safety training that meets their safety standards and duty of care.

The wider objective of the initiative seeks to raise standards and consensus around best practices for safety training, promote professionalism and duty of care in the news-gathering community, and contribute towards creating a culture of safety.

The initiative was launched at a meeting at the Frontline Club on October 10 that brought together key stakeholders from news media organizations, training providers and NGOs.  

Vaughan Smith, co-founder of Frontline Club and chair of FFR, noted, “I have been pushing this initiative for many years, and in that time I have encountered many people who have seen its difficulties but never anybody who thinks it’s a bad idea. It will save lives and support freelance journalism, and will benefit the news industry as a whole.”

Senior Vice President of Worldwide Newsgathering of NBC News, David Verdi, who took part in the meeting, said “NBC News has a proud history of supporting freelance journalists around the world in their pursuit of the truth. We are pleased to work with the Frontline Club, FFR and the ACOS Alliance in developing new tools that will enable current and future freelancers to prepare and work safely in some of the harshest environments.” 

During the first phase of implementation, we will be working with key stakeholders in shaping and rolling out the initiative. The next stage will be sharing an online resource setting out the initial minimum requirements for safety training as agreed at the London meeting, which key stakeholders are currently discussing and outlining. 

We call on news media organizations, training providers and media NGOs not only to endorse this initiative but to collaborate with us for its successful implementation.

For more information or to be involved, please contact us here.


Posted October 2018

The ACOS Alliance, Frontline Freelance Register (FFR), Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF), Marie Colvin Journalists' Network (MCJN), Rory Peck Trust (RPT) and SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom are working in partnership to offer two separate safety training courses in Beirut: a 5-day HEFAT (Hostile Environment and First Aid Training) course and a 2-day refresher course. These are two different courses and both are open to a maximum of 16 participants each. 

The 5-day HEFAT course runs from October 22nd to 26th (both inclusive), and is open to English and Arabic speakers. Course fees and accommodation are covered. A limited number of travel grants are available to eligible applicants based in the region. 

The 2-day refresher course takes place October 26th and 27th, and is only available in English for applicants who have completed a HEFAT course within the last 3 years. Course fees are covered. Selected applicants are expected to pay for their own travel and accommodation in Beirut. A limited number of travel grants are available to eligible applicants based in the region. 

To apply, please complete this form.

In line with the ACOS Principles, these two courses are designed to help journalists covering conflict or exposed to safety challenges in their work to be better prepared. The courses include classroom and group discussion work interspersed with realistic exercises to build skills and confidence, and will pay special attention to digital security. A vital element of these courses is the medical training -- an experienced and qualified medic will teach life-saving techniques.


Upon successfully completing the course, participants will receive industry-recognized certification. 

Posted September 2018

The ACOS Alliance is once again participating at the Photoville Festival in Brooklyn, NY. This year, we are supporting two events: 

Sunday, Sept. 16th, 1:30-2:30PM -- The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is holding a panel entitled, “Photography and Trauma: Psychological stress and the occupational hazards of exposure to traumatic imagery,” supported by ACOS. This panel aims to highlight how common psychological stress and trauma is among journalists and discuss related topics such as: why are photographers and photo editors at particular risk? what are the barriers to treating trauma and how do we address them? what are the available resources? The discussion will feature Nicole Schilit, Bruce Shapiro, Ashley Gilberston, Cengiz Yar and Alison Baskerville.

Sunday, Sept. 23 -- In partnership with Women Photograph, the ACOS Alliance has organized a safety workshop dedicated to female photojournalists. Based on last year’s success and feedback, we are adding a self-defense element to the training. Registration is now closed, but if you are interested in having access to similar safety workshops and training, please complete the ACOS Standard Application Form so we can keep you in mind when future opportunities arise.

Posted August 2018

This year’s Visa Pour l’Image photojournalism festival will be held in Perpignan, France, from Sept. 1-16, 2018. The ACOS Alliance has reserved a booth at the Palais des Congrès and is supporting several activities in collaboration with Frontline Freelance Register (FFR), the Rory Peck Trust (RPT) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), as follows:

Individual consultations, Sept. 6 & 7: CPJ Journalist Safety Specialist Colin Pereira and Safety Technologist Ela Stapley will be available to provide personal, one-on-one guidance on general safety issues, risk assessment, assignment planning and digital security. Sessions are free of charge and will last up to 30 minutes. Guidance is intended to give photojournalists access to knowledge and expertise that will help them improve their safety practice, as well as answer questions. Colin and Ela will be available on Thursday & Friday, Sept. 6 & 7, between 12:00-16:00, at the ACOS booth. Please fill out this form to book a slot.

Editors’ safety workshop, Sept. 7: The ACOS Alliance is organizing a Safety Workshop for Editors & Picture Editors on Friday, Sept. 7. As freelancers continue to professionalize and many media assistance organizations invest in their safety training, it’s essential that those commissioning them have an appropriate level of understanding of best practices for safe commissioning. This workshop is organized in an effort to develop editing and security practices that newsrooms can implement with minimal cost and rapid deployment, paying special attention to working with freelancers. The session, developed by a small group of editors and led by security experts at BuzzFeed, will serve as a confidential forum for exchanging best practices for commissioning and managing dangerous assignments. Participation at this ACOS workshop is by invitation only.

If you are an editor and would like to participate in the workshop, please send us a message on our contact page with “Perpignan” as the subject line. If you are freelancer, feel free to forward this information to your editor/s or share contact details with us so we can send them an invitation. 

Posted June 2018

RISC (Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues) has delivered its first course including not only medical training but safety awareness. The ACOS Alliance has been a strong advocate for this since consulting with RISC alumni who had later completed an additional hostile environment and first aid training (HEFAT) course to supplement skills learned. The Alliance has contributed towards the costs of adding the safety awareness component to this new course in Brazil. At the training, RISC made use of the ACOS Principles translated into Portuguese by CPJ, to coordinate with the ABRAJI Congress, held the same month.

Posted June 2018

The ACOS Alliance was invited to participate at the 13th international congress of the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (ABRAJI). Jason Reich, BuzzFeed Global Security Director, delivered a two-hour editors’ safety workshop for participants on behalf of the Alliance. Reich also made a presentation and participated in a panel on online harassment. To coordinate with the occasion, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) translated into Portuguese the ACOS Principles, which are also currently available in Arabic, French, Hebrew, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish

Posted June 2018

Together with the Frontline Freelance Register (FFR) and the Foreign Press Association (FPA) in Greece, the Alliance organized a five-day hostile environment and first aid training (HEFAT) course for 12 freelancers combined with a two-day refresher for another seven freelancers in Athens. The idea behind this course was to facilitate access and lower costs by choosing a hub like Athens, as an alternative to holding the course in the UK or US. Freelancers saved travel expenses and we managed to substantially lower the costs of the course by combining both courses (full HEFAT and refresher), negotiating discounted fees with the course provider (First Option) and sourcing venues for free through the FPA in Greece. Digital security was a priority need for participants and CPJ’s digital security adviser delivered a workshop and provided one-on-one advice to participants as part of this initiative. 


Posted June 2018

The Rory Peck Trust held a four-day HEFAT course in Thailand mainly dedicated to regional and international journalists preparing to cover the upcoming national elections in Cambodia. The ACOS Alliance provided input and shared knowledge from the course we organized in Thailand last year, and contributed towards the costs together with Free Press Unlimited.


Posted June 2018

After partnering on two successful safety trainings for freelancers in 2017, ACOS and the Pulitzer Center once again collaborated on a US-based course. The training, carried out over five days in rural Virginia with course operator 1st Option Safety, was accessed by 14 freelance journalists from eight countries. Significant emphasis was placed on smart preparation prior to entering a conflict zone.

The Center also arranged for participants to attend their two-day conference titled, "Beyond War: Causes of Conflict, Prospects for Peace," that was held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC the same week.

Posted May 2018

A group led by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is working on behalf of the ACOS Alliance to address an increasing number of incidents journalists -- many of them freelancers -- are facing at the border when entering the United States. The group is concerned about authorities targeting journalists at borders with additional inspections, device searches, and delayed or denied entry. 

Are you a journalist whose device was searched at the US border? Were you stopped for extra screening? Please fill out this form, which will be shared with CPJ and RSF. The group is working to understand the scope of the problems facing journalists entering and exiting via the US border, and coordinating with a coalition of groups to address these issues and refer individual journalists to advisories and assistance where needed. Please contact Alex Ellerbeck at CPJ ( or Margaux Ewen at RSF ( to report concerns -- which can remain anonymous -- or seek advice. 

Posted May 2018

Marking the 25th Anniversary of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, 2018, ACOS Executive Director Elisabet Cantenys participated in a panel discussion at United Nations Headquarters in New York on this year’s theme, “Keeping Power in Check: the Protection of Journalists and Media Workers.”

The event featured representatives from the UN and Member States, followed by a panel discussion with media practitioners and academics. 

A video of the event is available here.

Posted May 2018

On May 1, the ACOS Alliance held a day-long editors' safety training workshop at Columbia University in New York. Led by ACOS board members Jason Reich (BuzzFeed’s Global Security Director) and David Rohde (Online News Editor at The New Yorker), with contributions from Andrèa Schmidt and other experts, the workshop gathered nearly 50 editors from major outlets, together with media security and legal advisers, mainly from New York and Washington newsrooms. 

Participants were eager to learn how best to improve their safety protocols and procedures, and discuss some of the challenges they face -- from how to develop a solid safety protocol, to how to keep best practices up-to-date and reviewed, and how to implement across newsrooms and include freelancers. Although our emphasis was on freelancers and local journalists, ACOS Executive Director Elisabet Cantenys notes that “creating a culture of safety involves deep changes in our ecosystem and the workshop approached safety from an organizational point of view.” The day also included a session dedicated to psychological trauma, delivered by Bruce Shapiro from the Dart Center. 

Posted April 2018

BuzzFeed has offered ACOS and its partners access to their in-house safety training courses on a regular basis and where possible. This month, they offered free spots for journalists to attend their in-house four-day hostile environment safety training course in London. Frontline Freelance Register (FFR) and ACOS worked together to select three international freelancers based in Europe to benefit from this opportunity. 

Posted January 2018

This month the ACOS Alliance organized a one-day safety workshop for 30 female photojournalists in Washington, DC, in partnership with National Geographic, the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF), Women Photograph and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. After the course, National Geographic became an official signatory to the ACOS Principles. 

Posted December 2017

Earlier this month, the Alliance organized its annual coordination meeting at Columbia University’s journalism school in New York. The one-day meeting gathered together 50 representatives from news organizations, journalism NGOs and the freelance community. The sessions offered an opportunity to embrace a constructive conversation and share knowledge and views on safety issues. We held dedicated sessions to discuss the impact of safety training (Dart presented preliminary results from their survey and report), deficiencies and needs, and how best to enhance coordination among international NGOs on safety training. We held an editors’ session, focused on their security training needs, where the BBC presented their new editors’ safety course and different news organizations shared their views and experiences. Although the meeting focused on safety training, the Alliance also organized sessions dedicated to discuss best practices among grant-makers or content-supporting NGOs to promote journalists’ safety, combat sexual harassment, and discuss how best to encourage adherence to the ACOS principles. These sessions have prompted follow-up initiatives currently under development. 


Posted November 2017

The Infoshare working group, led by Jason Reich at BuzzFeed, responds to the lack of institutional support that the freelance community has when it comes to advice on security. The group has been working towards the creation of a network of security professionals willing to assist the freelance community, and to provide some of the support freelancers lack in comparison to staff reporters at news organizations. In practice, this includes contributing assessments, advisories and modeling sound decision-making processes. 

This month, we launched an initial six-month pilot on Slack that includes a selected group of 40 freelancers and 12 involved security experts. We are currently extending the number of participants and are working on the input received so we can improve and expand this initiative.

Posted November 2017

This month, 10 freelance journalists participated in a five-day HEFAT course in the UK organized in conjunction with course provider AK&P, The Guardian and Frontline Freelance Register. Doing this course with The Guardian allowed us to benefit from a reduced fee. The course benefited from input by five specialized instructors actively involved in high-risk deployments.


Posted October 2017

The Alliance provided bursaries to two freelance journalists attending the four-day safety training course "Reporting Safely in Crisis Zones," organized by the Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma. The course took place in New York and gathered a group of 16 freelance journalists. Our bursaries covered 40 percent of the course fee.  

Posted September 2017

The ACOS Alliance participated in a day-long workshop dedicated to the professional development of female photographers at the New York Photoville Festival. ACOS delivered a two-hour safety session addressing the particular challenges that female photojournalists face and the importance of being prepared. The workshop gathered a group of 50 female photojournalists. 

Although brief sessions like this should not be considered a substitute for a full safety training course, we saw this as an opportunity to raise awareness, educate a large group of photojournalists and promote the ACOS Principles. 

Posted August 2017

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, The New York Times and the ACOS Alliance partnered for first time to offer a total of 29 grants for freelance journalists covering conflict to attend two hostile environment and first aid training (HEFAT) courses. The first course took place in June in the US, and a second course was held this month in the UK. Having each course in a different continent facilitated participation from freelancers based in different parts of the world. The grants covered course fees, accommodation and food, while travel grants were also distributed as needed. The New York Times contributed towards the cost of the course while the Pulitzer Center managed the selection of participants and the logistical aspects.

Posted August 2017

The Alliance has launched a Standard Safety Training Application Form for freelance journalists in need of hostile environment safety training. As discussed at the ACOS coordination meeting last year, this form aims to build a database of freelance journalists in need of this type of training. The form will help us to reach out to individual freelancers when relevant opportunities for safety training arise, and the data collected can help us to articulate a coordinated response to current needs in partnership with news organizations, press freedom NGOs and funders. 

The data collected is being stored securely and, as we gain more information, this will be accessible to relevant ACOS partners. Sharing this data is key for us in order to support collaboration and coordination. We composed the form with input from IWMF, FFR, RPT, RISC and others. 

Posted August 2017

The ACOS Alliance, together with the Frontline Freelance Register, assisted the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation in organizing a three-day HEFAT course in the United States at a very low rate, to benefit 12 freelance journalists.


Posted July 2017

Together with VICE Media and the Rory Peck Trust (RPT), this month we supported a four-day HEFAT course in Kenya for 15 freelance journalists covering the region. The course brought together a great mix of international and regional freelancers. VICE Media financed most of the course, while RPT and ACOS made a small contribution towards fees and travel for some participants. The timing for this training was key, as Kenya was heading towards a disputed national election.


Posted June 2017

The Alliance participated in the WAN-IFRA Strengthening Media and Society Master Class Program, with a workshop dedicated to raising safety awareness among a group of editors from Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Mexico, Ecuador and Colombia. The session included a group discussion with the participation of Zaffar Abbas, Editor of Dawn (Pakistan); Guy Berger, Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO; and Hannah Storm, Director of INSI. This opportunity helped us to crystallize the editors’ training courses we plan to roll out in upcoming months. 



Posted May 2017

Six international freelance journalists attended a four-day HEFAT course organized by The Associated Press (AP) and Global Journalist Security (GJS) in Turkey. AP and GJS secured a reduced fee for freelancers, who made up 50 percent of the trainees. In addition, hosting the course in Turkey meant freelancers based in the region had easy access to the training.

Posted May 2017

Fifteen Southeast Asia-based freelance journalists completed a four-day HEFAT course in Thailand this month. Thanks to the support of the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) and Frontline Freelance Register (FFR), both international and local journalists spread across the region had access to this training. Participants reminded us how relevant it was for this training to take place in Thailand, in terms of access and content. The training was delivered by IWMF’s in-house trainer and course provider RPS. 

One of our participants, Julian Hadden, edited a video to capture the experience of the training.


Posted March 2017

This month we participated at the IFF by organizing and chairing a session dedicated to online safety training. We invited Free Press Unlimited and Greenhost to present a new project focused on training of trainers; the Rory peck Trust introduced their new risk assessment online course; and Article 19 Mexico shared lessons learned from their safety awareness videos. The session was well attended and instigated a discussion around the role of online safety training as an effective complement to face-to-face training.

Posted August 2016

The ACOS Alliance announced this month that Elisabet Cantenys, the former Head of Programmes at the Rory Peck Trust, will become the Alliance’s first-ever Executive Director. The selection of Cantenys is another step forward for the ACOS Alliance, a global coalition of freelance journalists, major news organizations and journalism NGOs, as they strive to create a culture of safety in the news industry.


“I am committed and passionate about the Alliance’s cause and mission,” Cantenys said. “Over the last twelve years, I’ve seen too often freelancers, their families, and editors going through horrific times. I’m driven by the conviction that the Alliance can make a difference.”


In light of the murder of freelance journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff in Syria in 2014, the unprecedented coalition gathered to develop and endorse worldwide freelance protection standards, which now have 87 signatory organizations from more than a dozen countries. The core of the movement is the Freelance Journalist Safety Principles, a comprehensive set of practices aimed at embedding this culture of safety with international news organizations and the freelancers who work with them.


“We’re thrilled to name Elisabet as ACOS’s first executive director,” said David Rohde, a co-chair of the ACOS Executive Board and an investigative editor and reporter at Reuters. “In an era of unprecedented attacks on journalists by governments, extremist groups and criminals, her passion, experience and commitment is exactly what we need.”


The ACOS Alliance is an unprecedented collaborative effort to spread the Safety Principles globally and improve access to the resources needed to keep journalists safe. Its work is currently focused on new security information-sharing, safety training, insurance, and communications initiatives. The Alliance encourages news organizations, journalists, and citizens across the world to read the principles, endorse them, and work to embed a culture of safety and to promote safe practices.


As Head of Programmes at the Rory Peck Trust, Cantenys oversaw, managed and implemented more than a dozen journalist safety projects worldwide. A native of Barcelona, Spain, Cantenys joined the Rory Peck Trust in 2004 as a researcher. Over the next six years, she rose to the role of Head of programmes in 2010.


Before joining Rory Peck, Cantenys worked as a freelance documentary producer, radio journalist and writer in New York, London and Barcelona. She received a master’s degree in global politics from the University of London in 2007 and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ramon Llull University in Barcelona in 1998.


This spring, Cantenys decided to move from London to her native Barcelona with her husband and daughter. Cantenys, who served as an ACOS board member before applying to become executive director, will work for ACOS from her home in Barcelona.


“I am truly excited about the challenges ahead of us and so look forward to working towards improving the safety of freelancers under the Alliance,” said Cantenys. “It is an honor to dedicate myself to ACOS.”


Posted June 2016

The ACOS Alliance has created a safety checklist for news organizations commissioning work from freelance journalists, available on our website. The checklist provides a tool for editors and freelancers to review safety practices and protocols that affect journalists in the field, in advance of the assignment, to ensure both parties are in agreement on expectations. The list should help news organizations to identify and better understand their own weaknesses and strengths in relation to the security of all the individuals exposed to danger, and aims to promote a constructive internal conversation around best practices.