Journalism Student Sees Idea Come to Life Through Safety Workshop for Media Professionals

Journalism students face pursuing a career in an adverse time filled with intense political issues, dangerous environmental concerns and even pandemics. Reporting on these difficult times is necessary, but can come with risks to the journalist’s health and well-being.

According to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, more than 600 journalists have been killed worldwide, either in the line of duty or purposefully. Journalists are also at risk of physical and psychological abuse.

Kent State senior Carter Adams recognized the intensity of this and committed to preventing the harm of media professionals by developing a workshop to educate students on media safety.

The journalism major was inspired to turn his passion for media safety into an idea and pitch it during Student Media’s FlashLab Innovation Pitch Contest in 2018. The pitch contest was a call for innovative ideas that would help Kent State Student Media. Many students pitched ideas. Adams won first place: a cash prize and most importantly, funding for his idea: a safety/security workshop dedicated to properly training media specialists in dangerous situations.

It took more than a year to coordinate the event, but in Spring 2020, Adams watched his idea come to life through Unscathed, a two-day hands-on workshop to prepare journalists and media specialists to cover stories in hostile environments and to be better prepared for working in potentially dangerous situations. The workshop took place March 5-6 and March 7-8, 2020.

“I'm speaking from experience when I say this training is necessary,” Adams said. “I've been there with and without training, and I can tell you, you’ll end up a lot less battered if you’re trained.”

Unscathed was led by Steve Cook and Chris Post, internationally renowned professionals with expertise in media safety and security. They typically train professionals; this was the first time these two led a safety and security workshop at a college campus, explicitly for students. Those who attended learned critical techniques and skills to use in the field, such as situational awareness, digital security, basic first aid and much more.

“We felt great after we left Kent State. This was such a positive and wonderful opportunity that Kent State gave to the students that we absolutely want to continue,” Post said. “It’s so important, and I think the students realized how lucky they were to be able to participate in a workshop like this, to talk about real world situations: how to stay safe and the perspective that the world isn’t always such a nice place.”

Not only did this workshop benefit students in journalism and mass communication, the lessons taught are helpful to anyone who may find themselves in challenging or threatening situations.

“What we teach are life skills. It’s not necessarily just for journalism students. It’s about being situational aware and understanding how to use your five senses more efficiently to keep you safe. The angle is that prevention is more important than the cure,” Cook said.

The purpose of Unscathed is to address media safety regarding crises, and more importantly, to train journalists, media advocates and media personnel how to handle situations like this before they occur.

“To have this training before you graduate college is an opportunity afforded rarely,” Adams said. “A lot of publications want you to have some type of training under your belt already in working internationally or even in some domestic hotbeds.”

The workshop was not only informative, it was engaging and relevant for the students who attended. Sessions held at the workshop included situational awareness and decision making, personal safety and first aid, violence against the media, weapons knowledge, crowds and police dynamics.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and would recommend it to everyone and anyone in today's society and world,” said Eman Abu-Khaled, sophomore journalism major. “I learned so much within that span of two days that the workshop lasted. I would definitely go again if I got the chance.”

According to Adams and those who attended, the workshop was a success.

“I didn’t realize how important this class was until I took it. This information is something I will carry with me for a long time,” said Sara Donato, senior digital media production major. “My only complaint is that I didn’t get more, I could have done this training another two times and still learned something new each time.”

Adams hopes to see Unscathed become an annual event at Kent State, expanding from just a two-day event to a four-day event.

“Something that would be incredible would be to have this workshop become something Kent State is known for. No other schools are doing this,” Adams said. “We need to make a point that Kent State is putting the effort in for media safety.”

Adams expresses his gratitude to Student Media and FlashLab for their support. “I really can't stress enough how much Student Media has helped bring this idea to life, because they believe in it too.”

Adams has worked alongside Kevin Dilley, director of Student Media, while implementing his idea. Dilley urged Adams to pitch his idea for the 2018 contest.

“FlashLab is contributing to a culture of innovative thinking and breaking down what that word means,” Dilley said. “I want students to walk out of here with a toolbox full of things and know that they are as innovative as anyone else.”

The Student Media FlashLab is one of the Design Innovation Nodes at Kent State, a location under the Design Innovation Hub, which increases awareness of resources, technology and design while improving innovation.

To learn more about Unscathed, visit https://kentstatestudentmedia.com/news/2020/unscathed-a-safety-and-secur...

To learn more about Student Media FlashLab, visit https://www.kent.edu/designinnovation/student-media-and-student-media-fl...

To learn more about Design Innovation Nodes, visit https://www.kent.edu/designinnovation/design-innovation-nodes

POSTED: Monday, April 20, 2020 - 4:04pm
UPDATED: Thursday, July 9, 2020 - 2:54pm
WRITTEN BY:
Olivia Boris, '20 and Leah Marxen, '20