The protection of journalists from online threats and when covering natural disasters were at the center of the conference on their safety organized by the International Training Center for the Safety of Journalists and Media Professionals, with the support of the General Secretariat for Communication and Information, at the conference center of ESIEM-Th, in Thessaloniki.

The event began with the introduction of the general secretary, Dimitris Galamatis, who, at the end, summarized the conclusions from what was said.

The head of the service Vassilis Papakostas pointed out the need to report intimidation, threats and other offenses to the Electronic Crime Directorate quickly so that the “electronic traces” are not lost.

He suggested journalists use encrypted communications, security tools such as vpn, update the software they use and be careful with links in emails.

He also pointed out that the cases handled by the Cybercrime Directorate tripled in five years and reached 10,318 in 2022 against 3,120 in 2017,

The journalist, director of ESIEM-Th, Yiannis Kotsifos, estimated that the protection of journalists from online threats goes primarily through the mobilization of all those involved, the Associations of Editors, the State and the media.

The goal, he said, is not to recall the technical tools for online protection that are now widespread, but to intervene in the environment that allows the threat to flourish.

The most effective way to deal with harassment on the internet is institutional, stressed the journalist, member of the Board of Directors of the Union of Foreign Press Correspondents, Giorgos Christidis. He referred to the case of the Netherlands, where journalistic associations, police and prosecutors co-signed a protocol that includes a series of protection measures. Among them, the possibility that anyone who harasses journalists online could have their home “visited” by the police and face the consequences of their actions.

The executive of the General Secretariat for Communication and Information, Aikaterini Mantzou, spoke about the regulation of the European Parliament and the Council regarding the single market for digital services that will start to be implemented from 2024.

The general secretary of Public Diplomacy and Hellenism Abroad, Yiannis Chrysoulakis, pointed out in his greeting that the secretariat supported the International Training Center for the Safety of Journalists, contributed to its promotion abroad and will soon join its founding memorandum.

The training of journalists who cover natural disasters

The multiple role played by the mass media in crisis management (prevention, preparedness, response, recovery) was highlighted by the Associate Professor, in the Department of Journalism and Mass Media of AUTH, Nikolaos Panagiotou.

He also pointed out that a recent survey by the department’s Peace Journalism Laboratory, regarding the period after the accident in Tempi, showed the increase in demand for information from traditional media. 40% of respondents in the first days after the accident devoted more than two hours to information. The majority chose to be informed by television, while, contrary to what happens in everyday life, last in the ranking was social media.

For his part, the journalist, director general of ERT 3 Filios Stagos, underlined that journalists who cover natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires, floods, must receive training similar to that of “first responders”, the mechanism, that is, which it is part of the answer, like EMAK.

As he explained, they must be self-sufficient and autonomous, in order, as much as possible. not to need the help of a third party

The need for journalists to take part in practical courses, in order not to endanger their lives when covering large fires, was pointed out by the professor in the Department of Forestry and Natural Environment of AUTH, Ioannis Gitas. These lessons could concern the way in which fuel, weather conditions and topography affect the evolution of fire, but also the equipment and clothing of the journalist in the field.

Mistakes due to lack of time and competition between the media are likely to be made by the journalist who covers natural disasters, stressed Christos Nikolaidis from the TV station SKAI.

He added that businesses have a responsibility to provide journalists covering conflicts or natural disasters with protective equipment, while the police must not block their access

Journalists who cover natural disasters should receive an emergency allowance and additional insurance coverage, according to the journalist, general secretary of the Union of Daily Newspaper Editors of Thessaly, Central Greece, Evia, Konstantinos Giasta.

The unprecedented conditions that even experienced journalists who covered the recent floods in Thessaly faced were mentioned by ERT journalist Lia Christara, who had the role of coordinator in the panel on natural disasters. The panel on the safety of journalists against cyber threats was moderated by the head of the Macedonian Directorate of APE-MBE, Stavros Tzimas.

The president of the Union of Editors of Macedonia-Thrace, Nikos Karras, the president of DEPTHE, Apostolos Veizades and the deputy mayor of Culture and Tourism of the Municipality of Thessaloniki, Maria Karagianni, addressed the event.