LONDON, ON, May 15, 2015 /CNW/ - A new safety training bursary for independent journalists and documentary filmmakers who focus on human rights abuses was announced today by the Forum Freelance Fund (FFF), as it opened its fifth annual competition for bursaries to help freelancers take hazardous environment training to deal with danger in their work.
The majority of FFF bursaries are reserved for Canadian freelancers or others with connections to Canadian media. But the Portenier Human Rights Bursary, worth up to $3,000, will be open to freelancers and independent documentary makers worldwide, experienced or novice.
The bursary is supported by Giselle Portenier, a Canadian filmmaker with an international reputation for her work exposing human rights abuses.
"Human rights journalism is the most important type of journalism in a global world," she said. "It's often also the most dangerous, and that's why hazardous environment training is not just important, it's essential to help keep journalists safe."
Portenier has seen her share of hostile environments. She survived a plane crash in Zimbabwe, a sniper attack in Afghanistan, and a lynching mob in Congo. She has received hazardous environment training several times, courtesy of the BBC.
"We are delighted that Giselle's generosity has made this new bursary possible," said Cliff Lonsdale, president of the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma, the educational charity which runs the FFF bursaries. "It opens what we hope will become an important new stream of bursaries within the fund."
Last year eight Canadian freelancers and other freelancers with connections to Canadian media received bursaries of up to $2,500 for safety training from the FFF, which is sponsored by CBC News and supported by Radio-Canada, CNW and by individual donations.
The Forum is also supported overall by The Globe and Mail.
The FFF is run in co-operation with the UK-based Rory Peck Trust, which offers safety training bursaries and other support to freelancers worldwide.
"Cash-strapped media organizations are relying more and more on freelancers for coverage from the world's most dangerous places," Lonsdale said. "The Forum doesn't encourage freelancers to put themselves in danger – but danger has a habit of finding journalists in many parts of the world, and freelancers are at significantly greater risk than most staffers because they have fewer supports. The training these bursaries help to provide significantly improves the odds."
Approved courses are currently available in the United States, Britain and occasionally Kenya.
In February, the Forum joined more than two dozen prominent news organizations and advocacy groups subscribing to a declaration of Global Safety Principles and Practices.
The 2015 competition opens today (May 15) and applications close on June 30.
Our thanks to CNW Group for sponsoring this announcement.
SOURCE Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma
Image with caption: "Giselle Portenier (CNW Group/Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20150515_C7560_PHOTO_EN_16697.jpg
For further information: See the Forum's website www.journalismforum.ca or contact Jane Hawkes, Executive Producer, Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma, 1-519 852-4946, [email protected]