Call for abstracts: Safeguarding press freedom amidst journalistic unsafety: Perspectives from Academia

Date/Fecha: 4 May 2024 

9:00 AM – 7:00 PM Chile Time (Hybrid event)


  • Morning: Facultad de Comunicaciones, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. (Address: Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins 340, Santiago, Chile (Subway station/Metro: Universidad Católica
  • Afternoon/Tarde: Casa Central, Universidad de Chile (Address: Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins 1058, Santiago, Chile (Subway station/Metro: Universidad de Chile)

Organisers: Universidad de Chile, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, OsloMet University, University of Liverpool, University of Sheffield, Gobierno de Chile, UNESCO.

In the past decade, journalists and news outlets worldwide have confronted an unprecedented and multidimensional crisis concerning their definition and role in society. On top of precarious labor conditions, we observe a complex digital landscape characterized by the proliferation of new actors, the emergence of digital platforms and social media, and the relevance of algorithms, virtual reality, and bots. In addition, information disorders such as misinformation, incivility, and digital harassment make the news landscape even more challenging. These complex and global phenomena take place at a time of profound news distrust and widespread criticism of institutions, triggering hostility toward journalists in many countries and contexts. 

Journalism practice has dramatically changed  due to acute economic difficulties, espionage, wars, terrorism, organized crime, and natural disasters, even more so in times of social and political crises. Political conditions in different territories impose restrictions on press freedom and freedom of expression, undermining the news media. Such conditions strain journalism and put the health and lives of those who practice it at serious risk. In some regions, especially in the global south, the exile of journalists and media practitioners has grown exponentially, with local and international organizations being unable to solve this problem, and with no expected date for it to end in the rise of authoritarian governments. 

In this context, reflecting on the role of journalism for democratic deliberation, political action, and human rights protection intertwines with discussion on journalists’ safety —physical and emotional safety, protection to face political, elite, and economic pressures, and safety in digital environments. 

Hence, in the context of UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day 2024, we are organizing an academic conference to address these issues from diverse theoretical, epistemological, and methodological approaches, and through contextualized, decolonized, and intersectional lenses. In line with the overarching theme for UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day 2024, the academic conference aims to echo global concerns amidst the environmental crisis in which the above described issues take place. Thus, the conference welcomes scholarly contributions that look into journalists’ safety and press freedom while advancing environmental protection. Furthermore, the conference aims to explore the potential of journalism to furnish dependable and precise information pertaining to climate change, environmental crises, and their far-reaching consequences.

Considering that the conference is scheduled for 2024 in South America, we also extend invitations for submissions addressing North/South disparities with regard to challenges and constraints on freedom of the press and freedom of expression. This is an opportunity to address the fact that the multiple dimensions of journalists’ safety in the Global South, in general, and in Latin America, in particular, have been traditionally omitted, stereotyped or underrepresented in the global academic discussion, despite the robust academic trajectory in the region.

The conference aims to create a safer work environment for journalists and media practitioners by sharing academic evidence on journalist safety, forging links between academia, civil society, and practitioners, as well as connecting researchers from around the world, paving the way for possible collaborations. This collaborative effort will create opportunities for consensus in support of promoting journalism safety.

Universidad de Chile and Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, as conference host institutions, will foster an intellectual forum built upon a bilingual dialogue. Consequently, the conference welcomes abstracts and panel proposals in both Spanish and English, in an attempt to represent the plurality of voices this conversation requires. Proposals might address issues such as:

  • Risks and strategies to face insecurity and precarious working conditions in the practice of journalism.
  • Risks associated with digital environments, artificial intelligence, and disinformation.
  • Specific risks and challenges faced by minorities and marginalized groups (women, sexual dissidence, indigenous populations, POC, etc.). 
  • Challenges of journalism education and the future of journalism. 
  • Consequences of traumatic events on journalism practice (disaster coverage, war and crime coverage, human rights violations, and so on). 
  • Safety and challenges of journalism in the context of the current global environmental crisis.
  • Crimes, migration, and exile of journalists and news practitioners.


PRIORITY FORMAT – PANELS: Authors are required to submit proposals of no more than 500 words, outlining the panel title, rationale, and individual presentations. The panel should include 4-5 authors affiliated to different universities, indicating authors’ full names, emails, affiliations, and a 50-word bio. Additionally, each panel should include authors from at least two different countries. In the case of panels submitted by Chilean academics, proposals should include at least one author from a regional university. Panelists must indicate whether they will attend the event in person or online.

OPTIONAL FORMAT – INDIVIDUAL PAPERS: Authors are required to submit an abstract of no more than 250 words, providing a detailed overview of the presentation’s content. For empirical papers, inclusion of the goals/hypotheses/research questions, methodology, and main results is essential. For theoretical proposals, a clear summary of the presentation (framework, case, discussion) is required. Authors must provide their full name, email, affiliation, and a 50-word bio, indicating whether they will attend the event in person or online.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Monday, January 22, 2024 via the following LINK.

Authors of selected proposals will be notified via email by January 31st.

For any questions, please do not hesitate to contact:

– For inquiries in English: Dra. Magdalena Saldaña, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (, Dr. Claudia Lagos-Lira, Universidad de Chile (, Dr Gemma Horton, Centre for Freedom of the Media, University of Sheffield (, Dr. Kristin Skare Orgeret, Oslomet ( or Dr. Vera Slavtcheva-Petkova, University of Liverpool and Worlds of Journalism Project (

– For inquiries in Spanish: Dra. Ximena Poo, Universidad de Chile (, Dra. Daniela Grassau, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile ( or Matías Ponce, UNESCO (