Some journalists face special hazards at work. And when it comes
to sending someone to report on a bottle-throwing mob with poor aim (or a a bottle-throwing
mob with good aim and a grudge against all journalists because one once described them
as "a bottle-throwing mob with poor aim") news-desks face an obvious temptation
to call up a freelance. Less blood on their carpet if it all goes pear-shaped.
It is also possible, of course, for a journalist to lead a much quieter life than you'd believe
possible if you've been reading too much Hemingway. And the prospect of a perfectly respectable
life doing subbing shifts on What Fridge? may well increase the temptation for
some, in particular the young and gung-ho and inexperienced, to hare off to the latest place in
the Pentagon's bomb-sights as soon as they can find Hamasistan on a map.
The simplest and most obvious advice we could offer to such people would be: Don't. Put your energies into wangling a trip to Hamasistan - the
Kingdom of Righteous Anger - as assistant to an old hand, instead. Because the one rule
that comes out of everything below is: do not go into dangerous situations
alone. Going solo may hold out the promise of an exclusive scoop, but it
also holds out the serious threat of an exclusive obituary - if anyone notices you're missing.
But, as with the prevention of sexually transmissible diseases, simple and pure
advice is not practicable advice. So Freelance Industrial Council
is discussing how best to provide timely and usable advice. In the meantime, here are some links
to the material we, and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), already have online.