Columbia J-School offers military safety course for journalists entering war zones

An interesting new course has popped up in the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism registrar. If you are an aspiring or working military reporter or photojournalist, the New York City-based university is offering a class on how to report safely in crisis zones, “with emphasis on prevention of harm.”

According to the course description, students will learn how to make the right judgement call and risk assessments during volatile situations, such as whether to trust a translator or drive down a dangerous road. Journalists will also learn how to recognize military sounds and equipments to know when to duck and escape possible attacks or kidnaps, as well as emergency first aid tactics when necessary.

“Covering crisis presents some of the biggest challenges in the profession. The wrong move can kill someone, including yourself,” the course description reads. “We [will] discuss how to avoid unnecessary peril, with careful preparations before, during and after assignments.”

The 3-day course runs between October 19 to 21, and costs $695 for the sessions. Judith Matloff, the class’s lead instructor, is a former foreign correspondent who specialized in “areas of turmoil,” and worked out of at least 62 countries covering international issues such as the apartheid’s demise and genocide. From her experience, she will also teach students how to emotionally care for reporting disturbing or troubling stories, and even cyber security methods to safeguard the information and data on your computer.

If you are a freelance journalist looking to enter this beat and want immediate preparation, Columbia is also offering a scholarship award to cover 60 percent of the course fees. Up to 11 students will receive the financial aid, with priorities to journalists with confirmed assignments, camera crews, or those who express a tangible need for financial support. Applying for this specialized class is also more difficult than just simply adding the class to your schedule and hoping there’s still space; the 25-student course will determine admission depending on your CV and a summary of the journalist’s experience. 

Learn more about the safety course or apply by contacting Columbia University directly.

Image Credit: Flickr / Adam Scotti

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