The annual Safety of Journalists conference. 2-3 November 2021

Call for Papers: Safety of journalists in times of infodemics

Oslo, Norway 2-3 November 2021

The term ‘infodemics’ had its breakthrough in 2020. The term – a combination of information and pandemics – describes a rapid and important spread of both factual and false information in a situation marked by uncertainty, also for those who are expected to disseminate information about the pandemic. In some countries journalists are being deprived of the right to report on the pandemic and experience increased risk associated with covering the governments’ social and economic policies. Several organizations working with the safety of journalists, such as Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) have repeatedly documented attacks and direct violence against journalists covering Covid-19. This includes both coverage of the actual situation at a given time, as well as for instance coverage of demonstrations against strict Covid measures.

Desinformation, so-called ‘fake news’ and conspiracy theories were central topics in the public debate already before the arrival of the pandemic. During 2020 and 2021 the world has indeed experienced how dangerous it may get when there is a lack of safety in journalists’ work environment while disinformation and conspiracies about infection, actions and consequences flourish. The pandemic brought excellent conditions for disinformation and conspiracy theories to grow. They can contribute to weakening confidence in the media and can in some cases be increasing hostility towards journalists.

RSF’s survey for 2020 shows that as the number of journalists killed in war situations decreases, increasingly more journalists (2/3 of those who lost their lives) are killed in countries not at war, and more and more often while investigating sensitive issues. Those behind the attacks on journalists and free media are rarely prosecuted and we know little about who they are.

One of the conference tracks will be dedicated to gaining more information and knowledge about those behind threats against journalists, with a particular emphasis during times of pandemics and crises. Another track encourages cases where journalists have joined forces to complete investigations started by colleagues being harassed or even assassinated, to keep their stories alive and not surrender to suppression. It is the aim of the conference to emphasize that in addition to physical and mental security, protecting journalists and media workers is also about their financial and legal security.

The purpose of the conference is to produce knowledge about measures that can improve the situation for journalists and journalism. This can be linked both to what journalists can do to protect themselves, both individually and in groups, and to collective and structural measures to protect journalists to end impunity for violence against them. The conference is also open for papers on more general safety issues for journalists and media workers.

We call for papers on topics such as (but not limited to)

  • Consequences of infodemics on the safety of journalists
  • Risks to journalists caused by false information
  • The safety of journalists in authoritarian “democracies”
  • Effects of campaigns and other actions to improve the safety of journalists
  • Teaching safety in journalism education
  • Killing the journalist won’t kill the story – studies on journalistic collaborations
  • Safety measures, both individually and collectively

All studies are encouraged to include gender perspectives.

If you want to participate with a paper, an abstract of maximum 250 words and a short bio focusing on possible earlier experience with research/practice in the field of safety of journalists/digital safety should be uploaded to before August 15, 2021. Please include your full name, institutional affiliation, and email. There is no registration fee and the participants are expected to cover their own costs for travel and accommodation.

A limited number of scholarships to cover flight and/or accommodation is available for Ph.D. students and researchers from low-income countries. Applications for scholarships should be submitted with the abstract together with a short CV.

The best papers will be considered for a forthcoming peer-reviewed publication. For any questions please contact

Categorized as News

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