A coalition of press freedom and journalism organizations including the International Press Institute (IPI) is launching a new safety resource to help news organizations respond to the extraordinary challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a focus on the safe commissioning of freelance journalists.

Produced by the ACOS Alliance, the COVID-19 News Organizations Safety Protocols provides newsrooms and commissioning editors with practical guidance on how to cover the pandemic professionally and in a way that minimizes risk. It addresses all aspects of commissioning freelance journalists and safety including crisis management, communications, hygiene and mental health. It also includes best practice around key freelance issues such as accreditation, PPE, insurance and expenses.

The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the safety and revenue challenges already facing the journalism industry. The protocol calls on news outlets to regard the safety and protection of all of its journalists – including freelancers – as an essential investment, as well as a basic duty of care. It contains tools which help newsrooms to review, adapt and expand their existing safety procedures in response to the pandemic and encourages those without safety protocols to prioritize their development as a matter of urgency.

“Freelance journalists are particularly exposed to the safety challenges presented by COVID-19”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “This is a valuable resource for both commissioning editors and freelance journalists themselves to ensure that a culture of safety is preserved when covering the virus and its impact.”

“COVID-19 exposes safety as a priority for everyone in the journalism profession, not just those involved in so-called “high risk” reporting. This is an invitation for news organizations who are new to safety to get involved in the conversation and to use this resource as an opportunity to embed a culture of safety within their everyday practices – including their work with freelancers“, Elisabet Cantenys, Executive Director of the ACOS Alliance said.

The resource was produced by ACOS, in partnership with Article 19, Committee to Protect Journalists, Free Press Unlimited, Frontline Freelance Register, , International Center for Journalists, International Media Support, International News Safety InstituteInternational Press InstituteInternational Women’s Media Foundation, Reporters Without Borders, Samir Kassir Foundation and the World Association of News Publishers. It is being translated into Arabic, French and Spanish.

This is the latest in a range of resources produced by the ACOS Alliance aimed at helping newsrooms and freelance journalists embed a culture of safety into their journalism practice.