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Female journalists, media houses urged to embrace digital safety and security measures 

Lira I 10 female journalists across Lango sub-region have been equipped with digital safety and security knowledge amid the growing cyber threats in the media industry.

The two-day training workshop was a courtesy of Defend Defenders and Human Rights Defenders Project. It started on November 24-25 2023 and covered the topics of security management, cyber bullying, password resting and management and physical security.

In her opening remarks, Lira City Council workers’ councillor, Sarah Awor Angweri appreciated the role of female journalists across Lango sub-region.

“Female journalists out there have amplified the voices of the community. We need to appreciate them for that sacrificial work,” she said.

Awor also called upon the female journalists to initiate projects within Lango that could elevate the status of the female gender in society, further challenging people who still have a negative attitude towards female journalists.

According to her, society needs to embrace the great role of female journalists in the media world.

“It is because of these female journalists that the world can know about issues pressing fellow women and children and in the long or short run, activists are able to advocate for change.”

She, however, called upon female journalists to stick to the professional code of conduct and follow all principles of story writing to enhance their integrity.

The workers’ councillor challenged media associations to advocate for favourable working conditions, saying this will help in addressing risks and threats.

“Self-care in an organization is paramount. Therefore, female journalists have to take care in order to avoid vulnerable situations.”

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Doreen Acipa, Defend Defenders’ Fellow 2023 while facilitating the two-day training, said the training was organized for female journalists to equip them with digital safety techniques now that media is evolving digitally.

Acipa who is also the chairperson of Lango Women Media Association (LWMA) noted that journalists help promote transparency and hold those in power accountable. “Most of the female journalists face numerous challenges that pose a threat to their physical security and digital security especially now that the world is seeing a digital evolution in the rapid advancements in technology.”

The above risks and advancement, according to her have become imperative for journalists to understand and mitigate risks associated with digital communication, data storage and physical safety.

“Despite being the voice to the voiceless in Lango sub-region, some female journalists are naïve about their very own safety. For example, some of us may not have any idea how to protect our gadgets, data or even ourselves. A greater percentage of female journalists face digital threats such as cyberbullying and harassment thereby creating a long-lasting impact in their lives.

Lango sub-region still faces gender stereotypes, Acipa said, noting that female journalists are treated as “just” and this is coupled with others calling some female journalists “sluts” simply because of choosing the profession.

“Negative narrative on the female journalists across the country has to change and this can only begin with us,” she added.

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Low self-esteem among female journalists is so evident in the Lango sub-region because of the names society tags to the female journalists, a reason Acipa says the training was timely to help in addressing such.

The LWMA chairperson believes that digital security skills among female journalists will help sensitize and encourage them to perform their journalistic roles without fear of threats and risks involved.

Speaking to tndNews, Bongonying Annet Ayero who works with Radio Wa in Lira City says the training has equipped her with basic precaution measures regarding digital safety and physical security aspects.

“With the nature of our work that involves the use of devices like computers, cameras, recorders and others, this training has fully equipped me with the different skills regarding how best I can protect myself from risks and threats associated with the digital world of media,” said Ayero.

Miss Heritage, Lango Sub-region Rita Alobo who is also a journalist attached to Voice of Lango radio in Lira City says the training was timely and has equipped them with the basic measures on how to mitigate threats like cyberbullying and harassment, an issue often faced by different female journalists in the [sub]region.

“I have realized that security of my gadgets is paramount since my haters would opt to use my information that I might have got from the field, they simply get the information in case they hack my account due to a weak password,” said Alobo.

Voice of the Gospel’s Dilish Ajok says she has realized that as a news anchor, it is vital for her to protect her information and sources at all times.

“Most times, we [female] journalists are so vulnerable to threats and risks in the media world and now with this two-day training, I believe we shall always reflect and do the needful in protecting ourselves from cyberbullying and harassment and also using strong passwords to protect from hackers,” said Ajok.

While equipping female journalists during the training workshop held at Hotel Kanbera in Lira City, Christine Awor, a communication specialist and a journalist by profession says with the rapid advancements in the digital era, female journalists encounter different challenges in saving their work and protecting their sources.

Awor adds there is now a need for digital security, adding that safety is paramount.

A Safe Sisters Fellow 2022, Awor says digital security is not only essential to a journalist but also a fundamental right that must be protected to ensure that the integrity of a journalist is protected and freedom of the press is achieved.

According to Awor, digital security or cyber security is crucial for journalists due to the increasing threats and risks they face in the digital reel.

“You find that journalists often handle very sensitive information and they rely on confidential sources to expose acts like corruption, human rights abuses and other critical issues. However, their work is constantly under threat from the State, cybercriminals, hackers and government surveillance agencies and without adequate digital security measures, you find that journalists risk compromising their sources, exposing their sources to legal consequences and also compromising the integrity of their work.

She has called upon female journalists to ensure the confidentiality of all their conversations with their sources, citing encryption tools, secure messaging apps and virtual privacy networks as essential tools that can help journalists protect their communication from interception.

“Journalists often work in hostile environments where their devices can be tampered with or even confiscated. Therefore, using strong passwords as we did in this training, end-to-end encryption and regular updates of software, can help mitigate the threats and risks,” she added.

Awor also called upon media houses and journalists to recommend the significance of digital safety and security through training and also providing resources and policies that promote its adaption to ensure the preservation of freedom of the press and uphold the principle of democracy in this digital age.

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