Article 19 security and survival workshop for photojournalists

Photojournalists act out a kidnapping scenario during the Article 19 security training. © Pedro Pardo

A security and survival workshop for photojournalists, organized by Article 19 and World Press Photo, took place from 25-27 October as part of the 7th Encounter of Mexican Photography 2012 (EFMEX Encuentro Fotográfico México). This annually-held meeting aims at creating a space where Mexican photographers and visual artists come together from all over the country to share experience and knowledge.

This year, the EFMEX decided to include as part of their events a three-day workshop for photojournalists focusing on security and protection in high risk areas. This was the second training organized by Article 19 and World Press Photo; the first training, which took place last January in the city of Toluca, also prepared the participants to give trainings themselves. Mexican photojournalists from the first workshop organized and led the October training.

This three-day workshop took place in the outskirts of the city of Tlaxcala. Fifteen journalists from different states of Mexico enrolled for the workshop, most of them working for local newspapers and as freelancers.

On the first day of the workshop, Omar Rábago, Programme Officer Freedom of Expression and Journalist Protection for the Mexico and Central America´s Office of Article 19, gave a welcoming talk, explaining the program and the overall logistics of the workshop, as well as explaining security protocols for journalists working in high risk areas in Mexico. For the rest of the day, members of the local Red Cross gave a talk titled 'Six actions to save a life'. After midnight, Red Cross members took the group for a night walk where they practiced survival and endurance skills. The second day was dedicated to self-defense lessons and a virtual security talk. After that, Pedro Pardo and Fernando Brito, the photojournalists who organized the event, both former World Press Photo winners, spoke about security measures that are important when working in Mexico in a context of violence.

The third and last day of workshop, Ivan Baez, legal attorney from Article 19, explained legal aspects for photojournalists in high risk areas. The rest of the day was dedicated to a cross-fire drill practice. This consisted in a mock scenario of a kidnapping of journalists by a criminal gang and a cross-fire battle between the criminals and army soldiers. The objective of the practice was to gain skills needed for reacting to a cross-fire situation when working as a photojournalist and preventing as much as possible fatal consequences.

Overall, organizers and participants considered the workshop a successful experience. The reactions of the participants after taking the workshop were of satisfaction from having learned new skills and of overwhelming surprise having realized the importance of taking care of oneself when performing this profession and of the responsibilities that come with the job. 

Adapted from a press release from Article 19.