Thanks to the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma, its partners and the Forum Freelance Fund, four freelance journalists will undergo hazardous environment training in the coming months.

The 2012 Forum Freelance Fund bursary recipients. Clockwise from top left: Mattieu Aikins, Lindsay Mackenzie, Jean-Pierre Bastien and Miguel Toran. (Photos via CNW)

 

Thanks to the Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma, its partners and the Forum Freelance Fund, four freelance journalists will undergo hazardous environment training in the coming months.

Miguel Toran recently spent three weeks filming inside of Syria. Mattieu Aikins hitchhiked into Afghanistan four years ago and has been working from Kabul ever since. Lindsay Mackenzie has reported on the Arab Spring from Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia. And Jean-Pierre Bastien covers stories in Colombia in territories fought over by soldiers, guerrillas and armed gangs.

"These are all fine and dedicated young people, taking very significant personal risks to bring us the news from some of the most dangerous places on earth," said Forum president Cliff Lonsdale in a release.  "Because they are freelance, they don't get the same level of training and protection that most staff correspondents and photographers now do."

Each will receive a bursary of up to $2,500 to take part in training programs in the US or UK – a safety luxury that many freelancers working from conflict zones do not have. This year’s winners’ work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, the National Post, La Presse, CBC and Radio-Canada, as well as in foreign media.

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As a sponsor of the Forum Freelance Fund, CBC News has committed $2,500 for three years to the program. Supporters — which this year include CNW, Macintosh Media and Radio-Canada — give what they can year-to-year.

To administer the bursaries, the Forum teamed up with the UK's Rory Peck Trust. The Trust is a UK-based charity that is dedicated to the safety and welfare of freelancers and their families around the world.  It was set up in 1995 in memory of Rory Peck, a freelance television cameraman killed while filming in Moscow two years earlier.

As newsrooms cut foreign reporting staff, stories from conflict zones are increasingly being told by freelancers who don't have access to the same safety training as other journalists. But journalists have been working to compensate. Michelle Shephard, the Toronto Star's national security correspondent wrote this tip sheet for foreign reporters for the Joseph Travers Fellowship and has appeared on many panels at journalism conferences on the topic. And at the national conference of the Canadian Association of Journalists this spring, Columbia University's Judith Matloff led a civil disobedience workshop. 

For more information about the winners and the program, the Forum’s press release can be found here

 

This article was last updated Sept 19 at 2:30 p.m.