Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues, Inc. (RISC)

RISC is dedicated to promoting the safety of freelance journalists in combat zones. We provide first aid training to freelance journalists working in all media - photography, print and broadcast - to mitigate the many threats they face to their physical security while on the job. Our name reflects our hope that freelance reporters trained in first aid will be able to treat not only their own wounds in the field, but also those of their colleagues, until they are able to reach professional medical care. It is our goal to make first aid training and preparedness an industry norm, like having a flak jacket and helmet, for freelance journalists working in combat zones.
Jun 10, 2015

You're helping to keep local journalists safe

RISC trained 24 Ukrainian journalists in April
RISC trained 24 Ukrainian journalists in April

After a relatively calm spring, Ukrainian journalists are heading back to the eastern front lines to cover renewed hostilities between pro-Russia separatists and the Ukrainian military. Thanks to your support, two dozen of them are now trained and equipped to keep each other safe while they bring us the news from the war. This April, the RISC team traveled to the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv to train 24 local journalists. Using translators, our instructors delivered the course in Ukrainian over five days instead of the usual four. Many of the journalists had previously been injured while covering the Euromaidan protests and the subsequent hostilities in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. One photographer had been kidnapped and held hostage by pro-Russian forces.

In conversations with our trainees and with media activists from the Kyiv-based Institute of Mass Information (IMI), we were told that Ukrainian journalists covering the conflict there are terribly underprepared and unsupported by their news agencies in terms of personal safety. Although it has become common to wear protective vests and helmets, often rented from IMI or purchased to share among a group, most journalists do not have hostile environment or emergency medical training. And most are not carrying personal first aid kits. Five journalists have been killed in eastern Ukraine since the current conflict began there. Of those, three died of shrapnel wounds, one from bullet wounds, and one died under murky circumstances; his burnt corpse was found in a car. In February, photographer Serhiy Nikolayev was killed in a mortar attack while traveling with a group of journalists on the front lines in Donetsk. It appears that he may have been saved if his colleagues had the right training.

Data collected by the Committee to Protect Journalists shows that the vast majority of journalists killed in conflict areas are local journalists. RISC has made it a priority to train more local journalists as we move into our fourth year of operations. This fall we will do another course in Nairobi, and we may return to Kyiv in the spring, depending on need. We are also working to organize a course in the Middle East. In the meantime, our next course is here in New York in just a couple of weeks. If you are in town, please join us for a group show of trainees' work at the Bronx Documentary Center on June 25 at 8:15pm. 

Thank you for helping us train more journalists around the world each year!

Links:

Feb 9, 2015

You are keeping freelance journalists safe in conflict zones

RISC alum Mauricio Morales in Gaza
RISC alum Mauricio Morales in Gaza

It has never been more dangerous to be a journalist working in conflict zones. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, an unusually high proportion of journalists killed in relation to their work last year were foreign correspondents, including Anja Niedringhaus, James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Nearly 1 in 4 of the journalists killed in 2014 were members of the foreign press, about double the amount CPJ has documented in recent years. And it's not just their physical safety which is at risk. A recent study shows that covering the war in Syria is taking a greater psychological toll on journalists than have previous wars.

In this perilous climate, the freelancers who work without institutional support are the most vulnerable group. Thanks to your generous donations throughout 2014, we were able to train and equip another 70 freelance journalists to save lives while working in dangerous and remote areas - bringing our total number of alumni to 190. Your donations are truly making a difference by helping to keep this vulnerable but incredible important newsgathering community safe, while they work to bring us the news. Below, you can hear about the difference you're making in their own words:

"RISC was not only an incredible chance to train in something so important and essential in covering conflict zones, that will save lives, but also a great way to not feel left behind as many freelancer might feel - to know that someone is making a great effort, in money and time, to help us be safe to continue reporting in different conflict zones in the world. We are not alone and that is something great to continue the struggle on reporting as a freelancer." - Colombian photographer Mauricio Morales, RISC Kosovo, July 2014. Click here to see Mauricio's portfolio from Syria, Gaza, Colombia and more.

"For me, RISC training was an important stepping stone to legitimizing my freelance skills. This year, I moved from a freelance video journalist to a contract foreign correspondent for The New York Times. RISC played a big role in propping me up, both with confidence in my safety abilities and support within the community. It's become a key group both for me and my peers to develop our practices and support each in becoming better and safer. " - American filmmaker Ben Solomon, RISC NYC, March 2013. Click here to see Ben's outstanding work on Ebola in the NY Times.

"The course was full of information and skills I would not have learned in other courses as it is specifically tailored to a freelancer’s journalistic needs. The RISC kit is actually one of the things that make the course so outstanding. Other courses give you the information but not the tools to save lives. Others who have taken similarly structured courses told me that they are told to ask us what's in our kits so they can then recreate them after the RISC model." - American photographer Monique Jacques, RISC NYC, October 2012. Click here to see Monique's photographs of women in Gaza.

RISC alum Ben Solomon filming in Ukraine
RISC alum Ben Solomon filming in Ukraine
RISC alum Monique Jaques photographing in Istanbul
RISC alum Monique Jaques photographing in Istanbul
"Telling Afghanistan" at RISC
"Telling Afghanistan" at RISC's speaker series
Browing at RISC
Browing at RISC's photo auction & benefit on Dec 3
Sebastian Junger & Susan Meiselas at RISC benefit
Sebastian Junger & Susan Meiselas at RISC benefit
Nov 6, 2014

With heavy hearts this year, we remain committed to keeping journalists safe in the field

Sophia Jones at a Kurdish Peshmerga base in Iraq
Sophia Jones at a Kurdish Peshmerga base in Iraq

Dear RISC supporters,

2014 has been a difficult year for the RISC community. We lost two of our alumni, both of whom participated in our first RISC course in April 2012. In March, Matthew Power passed away suddenly from heat stroke while on assignment for Men's Journal in Uganda. On August 19, James Foley was murdered by Islamic State extremists in Syria after nearly two years in captivity. With heavy hearts, we remain inspired by the founding motive of RISC. Sebastian Junger started this organization to prevent more needless deaths after his close friend and colleague Tim Hetherington died of mortar wounds in Libya. The losses of James and Matt have motivated us to work harder to keep the rest of the community safe.

Last month, we held the first RISC course in Africa, in Kenya's capital city of Nairobi. Twenty-four freelance journalists joined us for the training: they were writers, photographers and videographers, half were women, and about 1/3 were locally based while others traveled from Egypt, Somalia, Yemen, Ethiopia, Spain, Israel, Italy, Uganda, Afghanistan and Nigeria. Many had covered conflicts in the region, in South Sudan, Somalia and Democratic Republic of Congo. Others had covered the Ebola crisis in West Africa. And the large contingent of Cairo-based journalists had been covering the conflicts throughout the Middle East. In July, we trained another 24 journalists at a course in Gjakova, Kosovo.

The Kosovo and Nairobi courses bring the total number of RISC alumni now to 192. We continue to receive dozens of applications every month, and we have a long waiting list for future courses. Your donations help us plow through that list, training and equipping journalists covering dangerous and remote areas throughout the world to keep themselves, their colleagues and civilians around them safe. Next year, we will begin offering one-day refresher courses to our alumni.

If you are in the New York area, we would love to have you join us on December 3 for a photo auction and benefit to help raise more funds for RISC. The benefit will be hosted by RISC founder Sebastian Junger and Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas. We have 45 beautiful photographs available for bidding starting on November 19, by RISC alumni as well as acclaimed photographers including Tim Hetherington, Susan Meiselas, Richard Mosse, Roger Ballen, Moises Saman and Andrew McConnell. You can see a preview of the photographs up for auction here, and purchase tickets to the event here.

Thanks again for your support. Best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season this year.

Trainees Tony Karumba & Kimberly Adams in Nairobi
Trainees Tony Karumba & Kimberly Adams in Nairobi
RISC VIII - Nairobi - Group Shot
RISC VIII - Nairobi - Group Shot
RISC VII - Kosovo - Group Shot
RISC VII - Kosovo - Group Shot
Trainee Narciso Contreras & others in Kosovo
Trainee Narciso Contreras & others in Kosovo
RISC alum Mauricio Morales covering Gaza
RISC alum Mauricio Morales covering Gaza

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