NUJ welcomes updated National Action Plan for the safety of journalists
Legal threats, journalists’ safety and online abuse all feature in the refreshed publication.
Since the Action Plan’s launch in 2021, an online safety toolkit launched by the NUJ and Society of Editors has proved an essential on-the-go resource for journalists covering a breadth of issues including lawfare, physical and digital safety. Online abuse experienced by journalists is also highlighted in the NUJ's own short safety film launched as part of a safety campaign last year. Acknowledging the need for improved protections for journalists, government states it is taking action to tackle the wider issue of abuse, collaborating with Meta and X to reduce journalists’ exposure to harmful content.
The rise in Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPPs) brought against journalists in efforts to prevent publication, harass and intimidate is recognised, with the refresh of the plan including “new commitments designed to tackle behaviour that risks silencing reporting on vital public interest issues, or censoring debate.” The NUJ sits on a new government-led SLAPPs taskforce and is relaying concerns from members as the group explores non-legislative approaches to tackling the issue.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
The safety of journalists is the NUJ’s top priority, which is why the work of the UK’s National Committee for the Safety of Journalists’ and its action plan is so important. To follow on from our successful mobile safety toolkit, we will be creating a press safety tracker so journalists will be able to report incidents ranging from online abuse, problems during demonstrations caused by protestors or the police, and sexual harassment to the wider challenges posed by SLAPPs and other legal threats designed to stymie and interfere with journalistic reporting and investigations.
Attacks on journalists are deployed to silence and intimidate those who work to uphold the public’s right to know. NUJ members have shared horrific experiences of being attacked, abused and threatened – on and offline – simply for doing their job. The action plan is a central part of stamping out such behaviour and ensuring that journalists can go about their vital work safely and free from interference.
Promoting the value of journalism and the role of news accuracy in upholding democracy is highlighted by government, who commit to working alongside stakeholders to ensure journalists are free to carry out their work safely. By boosting media literacy with the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, officials hope to demonstrate the ongoing commitment to the value of journalism.