Dangers of Being a Freelance Journalist

By: Cam Jandrow

WORCESTER – The world of journalism has the reputation of being relentless when it comes to getting the facts, regardless of the lengths they might have to go to. Freelance reporters and even some full-timers have stood through natural disasters, riots, and other chaotic events in order to collect the best possible information for their networks. But is this a tactic we should uphold in today’s era?

There are several ways in which the wellness of a journalist is put at risk; and the most popular one as of late seems to be in regards to Syria.

David Nordman is the Deputy Managing Editor at the Telegram & Gazette, and agrees with the rising danger in the field. “…but freelance journalists have the most dangerous jobs. This is because they do not receive the same level of support that full-time employees receive. Freelance journalists are also known to take more chances to get a story in an effort to get ahead.”

Though the danger can be brought on by the journalists, there is no doubting the lengths one may have to go in order to get a story. “Unfortunately, with media companies reducing staffing levels, freelancers are becoming more common and journalists finding themselves in dangerous situations,” said Nordman.

With the conflicts in Syria, world news and media outlets still find it vital to send their reporters overseas to cover the issues overseas. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists,  one-third of the 227 journalists who died covering stories since 2011 were killed in Syria. Though the majority of those are local Syrian journalists, it still shows that those who report the news are not safe in that part of the world (and yet people still insist on going). Here is an example of what the CPJ had to say about the death of a fellow journalist in Yemen.

During the riots after the results of the Ferguson shooting case, CNN journalists stood on the front lines as smoke bombs filled the air. The Huffington Post took notice as well with the following tweet the night of the riots.

Michael Land, a professor of English and Journalism at Assumption College, said: “…it does seem to me that battling factions in some regions once didn’t see groups such as journalists or aid workers as targets — and maybe realized it would be a bad public relations move to hurt them. By contrast, some groups now see any Westerner as one more opportunity to terrorize us through public execution,” when asked of the dangers of journalism in today’s day in age.

But there are other elements in this topic that make journalism more dangerous than it used to be; and the main element in this case is social media. Today, reporters and anchors post photos on Twitter, Instagram, and many other outlets for thousands of followers to see. There have been several instances of reporters being stalked or followed. Psychology Today published an article in regards to the most likely persons to be stalked, and female television personalities was among the top. With the addition of these social media outlets, it seems to be getting worse.

Even natural disasters are a problem for journalists; as some are forced to stand outside in outrageous conditions such as blizzards, rainstorms, hurricanes, and anything one can imagine. CNN’s Jeanne Moos found out first-hand what it is like to cover a natural disaster when she was on the streets for Hurricane Sandy; as did others in this compilation video. 

Freelance journalism is a very dangerous world, and it seems to be getting increasingly dangerous as the demand for high-impact stories stays high. 

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