New Safety Code for Australian News Media

A code to protect the safety of media professionals was launched yesterday at the "Reporting Wars: Challenges and Responsibilities" conference in Sydney, Australia.

The 16-point code calls on news organisations to fully ensure the physical and emotional safety of staff assigned to conflict and hazardous zones. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports: "The code discourages any risk taking in pursuit of a story and states counselling should be provided after coverage of traumatic events."

The code was announced following a full-day conference that focused on international humanitarian law, journalists' safety and the relationship between the media, aid agencies and the military. Participants included Bruce Shapiro, executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, and keynote speakers Florian Westphal of the International Committee of the Red Cross and Chris Cramer of Reuters News and the International News Safety Institute.

At the end of the day, Cramer stated that he'd learned an important lesson: that a unit on international humanitarian law should be a component part of all hostile environment training courses. The ABC in Australia already includes this in their training for hazardous situations.