In the front line – protecting journalists digital safety in the time of crisis

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BIRN Serbia

The project addresses the lack of adequate response to the rising trend of online harassment, threats, pressures and abuses of journalists in the online sphere.


Since 2014, Share and BIRN digital monitoring documented hundreds of cases of digital rights violations in various forms, from technical to psychological. The initial bad situation additionally escalated during the emergency situation and Covid 19 crisis. Journalists were systemically denied access to information, while those questioning the Government measures were intimated and subjected to various forms of online harassment, even undue arrest, resulting in the lack of reliable information for the public in the time of crisis.

In spite of journalists increasingly being at risk online, it is not sufficiently recognized by the existing legal setting. Consequently, institutional mechanisms for protection of journalists are not adequate. In addition, journalists themselves don’t have enough knowledge to protect themselves and integrity of their work in these situations, while public support is sporadic. Considering the growing importance of keeping the digital space free and open in the country where in general media freedoms are in decline the project will prevent, expose, react to and help counter various forms of online harassment.



Main Objective:

BIRN, IJAS, and IPI’s joint action aim to strengthen journalists’ resilience amid various forms of online harassment and pressures and thus enhance the role and position of media and civil society in standing for freedom of expression and free flow of information, as fundamental human rights. These rights are especially endangered during Covid 19 pandemic and similar crises.

Main Activities:

  1. Monitoring of the existing legal framework and practice in response to online attacks against journalists
  2. Advocacy actions to support IJAS/BIRN engagement in policy working groups and enable formulation of new policies and/or proper implementation in the digital sphere
  3. Capacity building for journalists
  4. Online platform development and promotion
  5. Services for journalists (legal support, online crisis communication, technical support)
  6. Journalistic production and ongoing online campaign

Target Groups:

  • Journalists, media outlets and media organizations
  • Independent institutions
  • CSO sector dealing with human rights
  • Decision makers
  • Citizens
  • International institutions dealing with human rights and media freedom

Main implementer:

Independent Journalists Association of Serbia (IJAS)


Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Serbia (BIRN Serbia)

International Press Institute (IPI)