The Forum recognizes that current economic challenges are forcing Canadian media to make hard choices, including closure or cutbacks in foreign bureaus and staff reductions at home. At the same time, more young journalists are also considering freelance careers and more media organizations are turning to freelancers to bolster coverage and maintain their distinctive edge.
But what of the physical dangers those freelancers will face? Will news organizations agree to provide the same level of hostile environment training to freelancers as many now do for staff reporters and other personnel? Many organizations using freelancers face a growing dilemma here. Editors with limited resources can face very hard choices and may fear opening floodgates.
The Forum has worked with media companies and concerned journalism groups to develop a program to provide bursaries for freelancers to attend the same type of hostile environment courses many employers make available to staff reporters and photographers who are likely to be placed in harm's way.
The selection process is delegated to an independent jury, working to agreed criteria. Media sponsors are asked to make an initial three-year commitment to the project. Supporters, both corporate and individual, contribute annually with no long-term commitment. The number of bursaries awarded each year depends on the level of support we can generate, but the program has been growing both through fundraising and through innovative arrangements with other like-minded organizations.
In 2015 we added a parallel competition for The Portenier Human Rights Bursary, sponsored by acclaimed documentary-maker Giselle Portenier, a member of the Forum's board of directors. This bursary is open to freelance journalists and independent documentary-makers of any nationality with projects for used on human rights abuses. The bursary is also for hostile environment training.
Read more about all of our FFF Bursaries
Photo: Steve Cook, TYR Solutions.
Mindset: Reporting on Mental Health /
En-tête: Reportage et santé mentale
Our new resource for Canadian journalists reporting on mental health issues. Created by journalists for journalists. You can download an English- or French-language field guide for quick reference or see our websites for more in-depth material, including interviews with leading journalists, mental health professionals and people with lived experience.
For full details, please go to our Mindset website.
The Forum has held Risk Awareness Workshops for journalism schools since 2007. We are now transitioning to helping journalism programs build this kind of material into their regular courses. For more information, go to our new Resources for Educators section.
Photo (from left): Joe Belanger, London Free Press; Dr. Anthony Feinstein, psychiatrist, University of Toronto; and Michelle Shephard, Toronto Star - participating in a risk workshop at Western University, October 2014.
The Inner Circle Project
The Forum is building a resource system for 'significant others' of journalists and other media professionals (parents, spouses, children and colleagues) to help all better understand and cope with the serious challenges and fallout of on-the-job emotional pressures. This will take a variety of forms including a bibliography; interviews with mental health professionals and journalists and their significant others sharing first-hand experiences and advice; and interdisciplinary workshops (either within other mental health conferences/events or Forum-sponsored workshops or webinars). Sponsorship for this initiative is welcome.
Inaugural Conference 2008
The Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma was created in 2007 and held its inaugural conference, "Journalism In A Violent World", at the University of Western Ontario in 2008. 125 delegates from Canada, the US and the UK attended. See Conference 2008 for details on speakers, sessions and papers presented. The conference declared that the Forum should become an independent educational charity, and that status was achieved in 2009.