In Malaysia, a Practical Safety Guide for Journalists and CSOs Working in the Time of COVID-19

Internews in Malaysia, in partnership with the European Union, conducted a webinar on July 9 that highlighted key safety guidelines and practices for community-facing journalists and civil society organisations (CSOs). “Reporting During COVID-19: Physical Safety & Risk Mitigation Strategies for Community Engagement” emphasised how journalists and CSOs should devise locally-relevant safety guidelines, methodologies and toolkits to carry out their duties responsibly and effectively, especially when engaging with vulnerable and remote populations. It was livestreamed on Zoom and Internews’ Facebook page.

Under the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) in Malaysia from June 10 to August 31, traveling across states for work and domestic tourism is allowed. This means an increase in interstate movement as well as community engagement and interaction in the upcoming months. To ensure that journalists and CSOs do not contribute to further spreading COVID-19 while at the same time protecting themselves, the webinar shared insights from two speakers: Victor Redmond S. “Red” Batario, a safety trainer, former journalist and founder of the Center for Community Journalism and Development in the Philippines; and Dana Batnag, a journalist, data officer and human rights advocate from the Philippines.

Red Batario discussed three main components to minimizing the risk of infection or infecting others: Planning and Preparations, Taking Care of Yourself While on Assignment, and Taking Care of Yourself After Assignment. Dana Batnag provided insight into how journalists and CSOs can devise alternative engagement plans during this pandemic which takes into account the priorities and needs of local communities including those in high-risk areas.

Download the key guidelines:

(Banner photo: COVID-19 screening at UNIMAS City Campus. Credit: Universiti Malaysia Sarawak Malaysia/Flickr/CC)