Following the three rounds of the academic consultation and the literature stocktake, CFOM produced a set of recommendations on how the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity (UNPA) can be strengthened and adapted in light of the new challenges threatening the safety of journalists.

Report Highlights 

Increase in Research since UNPA

Since the introduction of the UNPA, there has been an increase in academic literature focused on the areas of journalism safety and the issue of impunity. Most of the academic publications have a communication/journalism focus while some are interdisciplinary. Law is the second most researched area. 

 Single Country Focus

Most of the research within academic literature has a focus on a single country. Countries with the most academic literature focused on them included Mexico,  Pakistan and Nigeria. In some cases, we have seen some comparative research conducted in different countries and there was also research that has a regional focus too. 

Research Themes

Digital Safety

One research area that has become more prominent in academic research is that of digital safety. In particular, since 2018 this has become a prominent research area. Research on digital threats includes topics such as digital threats (i.e. online surveillance and the states’ role), online harassment and the use of technology as to protect journalists.

Gender-Specific Safety Issues 

Academic research has paid particular attention to the fact that women are more likely to be targeted because of their job than their male counterparts. The uptick in publications focusing on women journalists coincides with the #MeToo movement and focus on issues such as online harassment, harassment in the workplace and gender inequality.

Emotional and Psychological Wellbeing 

There has been a move towards focusing on the emotional and psychological wellbeing of journalists during their ‘every day’ work as opposed to focusing solely on it during times of war and conflict as early literature did. It has also been noted that media houses need to offer more training in this area as in some cases it is lacking.

Workplace Safety

Research examining workplace safety has been examined in relation to the emotional and psychological wellbeing of journalists and how they are protected (or not) in their workplace. Research has also examined how media houses and organisations are not offering adequate safety training in general to their employees, particularly in hostile environments. 


Research has highlighted the importance that monitoring can play in collecting data on journalism safety and the need for extensive collection of data on violations against journalists. A number of challenges related to data collection include a lack of methodological transparency, a lack of conceptual consistency in definitions used and merging data from different sources.