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'We need to bring editors into the safety conversation'

At Rights Con 2022 ACOS Executive Elisabet Cantenys argued that journalist safety will never be properly addressed if the safety role of news editors isn’t also addressed.

Elisabet was speaking at the June 8 session “Holistic Approach to Safety in the MENA region” organized by Arab Reporters of Investigative Journalism (ARIJ), moderated by its Director General Rawan Damen, which explored the five key pillars necessary for journalist safety in the region, underlining the importance of psychological safety and the role editors play in achieving this.

The session examined the concept of “career safety” pioneered by ARIJ to support MENA-based journalists who are increasingly leaving the profession because of the extraordinary safety challenges they face. MENA has been deemed the most dangerous region in the world for journalists and it’s taking its toll on the journalism community.

Trauma therapist Khaled Naser presented the findings of his study on journalist trauma and stress in the MENA region which described a dire situation: 43.% - 90% of journalists and media professionals experienced multiple traumatic events on the job (figures varied country to country) with journalists describing work conditions as their greatest stressor.

The panel discussed the need for a trauma-informed safety culture in media organizations and newsrooms that enables both editors and journalists to manage the extraordinary demands of their work. “We need to bring editors to the safety conversation” said Cantenys. “We'll never have the [safety] impact we need if we don't empower editors to support the journalists they work with.”

Speakers also included Khalid Otaibi, a Digital Transformation Consultant at ARIJ (Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism) and Clothilde Redfern, Director of Rory Peck Trust.

  • The full recording of this session is available to view for anyone with a Rights Con 2022 registration. Registration for Rights Con 2023 is already open and will be a hybrid event, held partially in Costa Rica.

  • The ACOS/Dart Asia Pacific resource, Leading Resilience: a guide for news editors and managers is designed specifically for news editors and managers working with freelance journalists. It contains practical information, tips and guidance to help editors assess trauma exposure among freelance contributors and plan the necessary action and support.


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