Safety tips for Connecticut journalists

The next few days or weeks in Connecticut have potential to be heated and difficult for journalists out in the field. 

The FBI has warned of armed protests in major cities across the country leading up to Wednesday’s inauguration, and we know the CT State Police have been working tirelessly with the governor’s office, Capitol Police and other agencies to ensure safety in Hartford. 

The state police have also said they will provide a safe staging area for the media during Sunday’s planned protest in Hartford. If we get any more information, we’ll be sure to share it with you. 

In the meantime, here are some tips from Poynter on how to cover safety and unrest. The Committee to Protect Journalists also offered safety guidelines on covering events leading up to the inauguration and has this handy risk assessment form to review in your newsroom. 

Finally, here’s a PDF fact sheet from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press on how to protect yourself when covering a protest. 

Basic takeaways: 

  • Put your safety first, not the story

  • Do not go alone

  • Have ID and credentials readily available, but be careful how/where you display them (lanyards are often discouraged)

  • Bring only the bare minimum equipment needed for the job

  • Be respectful and follow police orders

  • Stay in constant contact with your editor/newsroom. If you are an independent journalist, make sure a friend/colleague knows where you are & how long you plan to be there

  • Keep contact numbers for key editors/company lawyers/bail bondsman on a card in your pocket or written on your arm (do not rely solely on your cell phone)

  • Constantly scan your surroundings and plan an escape route

  • If possible, carry a bottle of water with you (to rinse eyes after teargas). A First Aid kit is good too.

  • Remember: Police do not have a right to search or seize your equipment

The RCFP offers a legal hotline at 800-336-4243 or You can also get support from the SPJ Legal Defense Fund to defend freedoms of speech and of the press and to ensure access to government information.

Our hope is that all journalists will be safe this weekend (and in the future). 

Self-care for journalists

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

If you’re feeling tired and worn down from this seemingly never-ending election season, you are not alone. This has been a trying year, and the additional stress of journalism and journalists being under attack is exhausting.

We all need to take some time to breathe, look after ourselves, and be kind and supportive to one another.

Here are some resources that might help:

Critical Stress Help Sheet from the National Press Photographers Association 

Johnny Webber’s Life Assessment Checklist

Doctors give advice on how to relax from election stress

How journalists can address their own mental health, from the International Journalists’ Network 

The DART Center also offers lots of tips, resources and training for newsrooms

Finally, if you are a journalist who regularly covers traumatic or really stressful events or topics, you can apply to join the Journalists Covering Trauma Facebook group (yes, covering the pandemic counts as trauma). 

Stay safe, and as always, don’t hesitate to reach out to your local SPJ chapter with questions or concerns. 

Copyright 2010-2017. Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists, P.O. Box 5071, Woodbridge CT 06525