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Frontline Freelance Register created to help freelance war reporters

Frontline Club's Vaughan Smith has launched the Frontline Freelance Register, a representative body created to help freelance war journalists and photographers. He speaks to BJP

The Frontline Freelance Register is a new representative body for freelance conflict photographers and journalists, created to “address the current gaps in the media landscape and [for freelancers] to take responsibility for their own safety and security,” says Vaughan Smith of the Frontline Club in London.

“I think this is all linked to the coverage of the Syrian conflict, which is increasingly being conducted by freelancers,” he tells BJP in a phone interview, hours before news emerged that two journalists, including photographer Edouard Elias, had been abducted on their way to Aleppo in Syria. “The dangers are obviously great. In fact, I think it’s hard to find anything else in the past two decades that has been as dangerous for journalists as Syria has become.”

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Founded by Smith and a group of freelance journalists and photographers, the FFR will also aim to ensure that its members observe responsible newsgathering and safety standards. “Freelancers need to have a voice, but most importantly demonstrate to the more traditional news industry that they are very serious about their work and that they are prepared to sign up to a stringent, but correct, code of conduct,” Smith says. “We want to improve the relationship between the freelancers and the news industry. We want to improve the manner in which people perceive and understand freelancers and their roles.”

In the next six months, the FFR will be surveying its members about their needs and priorities. “We think we know what these are, but we want to be sure,” Smith tellsBJP. “The register will be led by a committee of eight people who will be voted in by everybody. That committee will be conducting business on the register’s behalf according to what freelancers want. We’re going to be listening to freelancers very carefully. This is an opportunity to build something that’s really helpful both to the news industry and the freelancers.”

For more details about the Frontline Freelance Register, visit frontlinefreelance.org.