This section provides information and resources for journalism educators about how to incorporate professional risk awareness into journalism programs or courses.
Since 2007 the Forum has run a series of one-day Risk Awareness Workshops for students in post-secondary journalism programs. Typically these are held on a Saturday and are extra-curricular. Attendance is therefore voluntary. The workshops generally last about 6 hours, including a light lunch during which students can meet informally with the moderator and 3 panel members.
The workshops cover physical and emotional risks typically encountered during domestic and foreign assignments. Panelists usually include a domestic reporter with personal experience of the subject matter; a foreign or war correspondent with the same; and a person qualified to provide mental health information and insights relevant to journalists. The photo above shows one such panel for the graduate program in journalism at Western University with Joe Belanger of the London Free Press, Dr. Anthony Feinstein, the world-leading expert in PTSD in war journalists; and Michelle Shephard, national security correspondent for the Toronto Star.
Feedback on these workshops from students has been overwhelmingly positive. The drawbacks to this approach, however, are:
A new approach
The Forum is transitioning to place increasing emphasis on encouraging journalism programs and teachers to incorporate professional risk awareness within the curriculum, where it belongs. Indeed, it may be argued that journalism programs which do not adequately address these issues are failing in their natural duty of care.
The old 'suck-it-up' attitudes of the past are rejected now by most responsible employers, as the physical and emotional dangers facing journalists become increasingly evident. Journalism schools should be in the vanguard of that continuing change, scarcity of instruction time notwithstanding. In this, as in so many other aspects of journalism today, we must teach for the reality the students will inhabit, not the culture of the past.
How can The Forum help?