Covering Protests, pandemics Safely-Strategies for Journalists

Covering Protests, pandemics Safely-Strategies for Journalists

Strategies for Safely Covering Protests: Always remember no story is worth serious injury or dying for!

WAN-INFRA Podcast on Covering protests and demonstrations safely (Courtesy of WAN-INFRA)


Strategies for Safely Covering Protests

Also read: Coronavirus Videos: How to properly wear masks and Kaspersky: Scammers exploiting Covid-19 pandemic grants

Hosted in partnership with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) this webinar was led by journalist safety experts Jean-François Belzil, Alison Baskerville and Colin Pereira, and highlighted strategies to help journalists stay safe while covering protests, including how to prepare for and react to threats against their physical safety. The discussion also provided guidance specifically tailored to covering protests during a pandemic, and situations that women journalists and journalists of color may encounter in the field.

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Strategies for Safely Covering Protests:  CPJ Safety Advisory Covering US Protests

Journalists in Africa can learn frpom their colleagues in the US.

Here are the statistics and considerations for journalists covering protests in the US


Safety for Journalists: How to cover Infectious Diseases

Infectious diseases are disorders caused by organisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites. Many organisms live in and on our bodies.

Some types of infectious diseases can be passed from person to person, others are transmitted by insects or animals (Zoonotic diseases), and some can also be caused by consuming contaminated food, water or by being exposed to organisms in the environment.

As with all assignments as you break down the steps and work through the dangers associated with the task or assignment, the risk of infectious diseases should be one of the major considerations throughout every step

Common Causes 

  • Bacteria – These one-cell organisms are responsible for illnesses such as strep throat, urinary tract infections and tuberculosis.
  • Viruses – Even smaller than bacteria, viruses cause a multitude of diseases ranging from the common cold to AIDS.
  • Fungi – Many skin diseases, such as ringworm and athlete’s foot, are caused by fungi. Other more serious types of fungi can infect your lungs or nervous system.
  • Parasites – Malaria is caused by a tiny parasite that is transmitted by a mosquito bite. Other parasites may be transmitted to humans from animal feces.


These diseases can be passed on by a variety of ways, most common methods of transmission are listed below:

Direct contact – A common way to catch most infectious diseases is by coming in contact with an infected person or an animal.

  • Indirect contact – Disease-causing organisms also can be passed by indirect contact. Many germs can linger on an inanimate object, such as a tabletop, doorknob or faucet handle.
  • Insect bites – Some germs rely on insect carriers such as mosquitoes, fleas, lice or ticks. These carriers are known as vectors. Mosquitoes can carry the malaria parasite or various other types of disease depending on their environment. Ticks can carry the bacterium that causes Lyme disease
  • Food contamination – Disease-causing germs can also infect you through contaminated food and water. This mechanism of transmission allows germs to be spread to many people through a single source.

Signs and Symptoms 

Each infectious disease has its own specific signs and symptoms, and you must familiarise yourself with these for any disease you may be a risk to.

General signs and symptoms common to several infectious diseases include:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Shivers
  • High temperature
  • Muscle aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of sense of taste or smell

Preventative Measures

  • Proper hand washing. This should be conducted regularly and is especially important before and after preparing food, before eating, and after using the toilet.
  • Avoid touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands, as that’s a common way germs enter the body (you will often hear this referred to as entry via the “mucus membrane”. Diseases that enter via the genitals is also via the mucus membrane).
  • Wearing the appropriate personal protection equipment.
  • Vaccination can drastically reduce your chances of contracting many diseases. Make sure to keep up to date on your recommended vaccinations.
  • Stay home if you do not feel well.
  • Practice social distancing – Social distancing, also called “physical distancing,” means keeping a safe space between yourself and other people at least 6 feet (about 2 arms’ length).
  • Prepare food safely. Keep counters and other kitchen surfaces clean when preparing meals. Cook foods to the proper temperature.
  • Do not share personal items and void sharing water bottles, cups, glasses or eating utensils.

What to do if you feel unwell

Mild infections may respond to rest and home remedies, while some life-threatening infections may need hospitalization. However if you are unsure of the type of infection, or if it is contagious you should stay away from others and seek medical advice by phone to avoid the risk of passing on the infection.

So on most types of assignment your considerations would be on how to avoid these type of infections so you can remain healthy, and complete the task or assignment safely and effectively.

However if the assignment is actually covering a story on infectious disease this would certainly be considered a high risk assignment and would therefore require approval, even more research knowledge and possibly specialised PPE.

Covering Infectious Diseases

If the assignment was to actually cover a story on infectious diseases this would be regarded as a high risk assignment, and if you did receive approval to go ahead from your editor or manager there would be significantly more to consider and prepare for, and may also require specialised training and more advanced levels of PPE.

Also read: Coronavirus Videos: How to properly wear masks

Also read: All you need to know about COVID-19 Pandemic

Also read: Coronavirus Videos: How to properly wear masks 

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Digital Safety for Journalists

  • Be aware of the information stored on your devices. Think about the type of information police will have access to should they detain you and gain access to your phone or laptop
  • If possible, leave your main phone behind and instead carry a phone that has minimal information on it. If you cannot leave your phone behind then remove as much personal information as possible from the device, including logging out of and deleting apps from the phone. For more information, see CPJ’s advice on device security
  • Deactivate touch or face ID for your phone and use a pin number instead
  • Turn off location services for your apps as this information is stored by companies and could be subpoenaed by the authorities at a later date

CPJ’s online Safety Kit provides journalists and newsrooms with basic safety information on physical, digital, and psychological safety resources and tools, including covering civil unrest. If you need assistance, journalists should contact CPJ via

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