Canada: Four freelance journos working in hotspots receive safety lifeline

Tuesday, September 18, 2012
London: Four talented young journalists working in dangerous situations around the world will get financial help with safety training after winning bursaries from the Forum Freelance Fund.

The Canadian Journalism Forum on Violence and Trauma has named bursary winners based in Afghanistan, Beijing, Bogotá and Tunis. Three are Canadians.  All work freelance for Canadian and other media organizations.  Bursaries of up to $2,500 will help each of them undergo hazardous environment training over the coming months in the UK or USA.

One of the winners, Miguel Toran, recently spent three weeks filming inside Syria. Another, Matthieu Aikins, hitchhiked into Afghanistan from Uzbekistan four years ago and has been working out of Kabul ever since, mostly without being embedded.

Lindsay Mackenzie reported from Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia on the Arab Spring, while Jean-Pierre Bastien is based in Colombia, and covers stories in territory that's being fought over by soldiers, guerrillas, and armed gangs.

"These are all fine and dedicated young people, taking very significant personal risks to bring us the news from some of the most dangerous places on earth," said Forum president Cliff Lonsdale.  "Because they are freelance, they don't get the same level of training and protection that most staff correspondents and photographers now do."

This is the second year the Forum Freelance Fund has run a bursary competition to help change that, with the number of awards doubled from last year.

This year's winners have worked for many major Canadian news organizations, including The Globe and Mail, The National Post, La Presse, CBC and Radio-Canada. Their work has also appeared internationally in an impressive array of foreign print, broadcast and online outlets.
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