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Resources for Media Makers and Citizen Journalists Covering Hostile Environments

By IDA Staff

During this historic time, many of you are using your cameras to witness and capture unfolding events in hostile environments. Reporting in the US on unfolding events, whether COVID or protests, presents an unprecedented amount of physical risk. Citizen journalists, activists and independent media makers are working without institutional support and without the visibility and protection of journalists associated with media organizations. The International Documentary Association (IDA) and WITNESS will be gathering ongoing resources to inform your activities, which are critical to the health of our democracy, to the public discourse and to the way forward. And if you know of other resources that should be on this list please email us at:

Resources from WITNESS and IDA

  • "Caught on Camera: Filming Police Violence in the United States" project page includes resources, case studies, etc. on using video to document police violence Read More

  • "Mapping the Documentary Journalism Landscape" provides background and basic knowledge about journalistic norms and practices Read More

  • "Filming the Police" tip sheet (resource page includes links to Arabic and Spanish versions) Read More

  • "Filming Protests and Demonstrations in the United States" tip sheet Download PDF

  • "Tips for Filming Protests" video series Watch on Youtube

  • "Using Video to Document Excessive Force During Covid-19  Restrictions on Movement" tip sheet (resource page includes link to Spanish version) Read More

  • "Getting Started with Digital Security" with tips and resources for activists Read More

  • "Livestreaming Protests - USA" tip sheet Download PDF

  • "Livestreaming Protests in the US" Watch Video

  • "Filming Immigration Enforcement" tip sheet (resource page includes links to Arabic, Spanish, French, Haitian Creole, and Urdu) Read More

  • "Filming Immigration Enforcement In the United States" watch video

  • "Four Ways to Save Live Video Broadcasts" Read More

  • "Sharing Videos of Immigration Enforcement" checklist (resource page includes links to Arabic, Spanish, French, Haitian Creole, and Urdu) Read More

  • "Legal Issues and Security When Filming Immigration Officials" Q+A with videos Read More

  • "4 Tips to Have Active and Co-Present Audiences When Livestreaming" Read More

  • "Video as Evidence" mini-guide Download PDF

  • "Using Eyewitness Video as Data about Police Abuse - Profiling the Police" project site that serves as a use case study for advocates, journalists, legal experts and technologists interested in exploring new forms of storytelling through the analysis and curation of human rights videos.

  • "The People's Database for Community-based Police Accountability

    • Download planning workbook, data model guide, FileMaker Pro template as well as vocabulary guide for consistent data entry

  • Articles relating to ethical sharing:

    • "Seeing Aylan Kurdi, Adam Ward and Alison Parker" Read More

    • "Images of Horror: Whose Roles and What Responsibilities?" Read More

    • "Are Crime Victims Being Re-Victimized by Filmmakers?" Read More

Other Resources

  • "Police Protesters and the Press" from Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Download PDF

  • "Reporting Tips and Tools" from Global Investigative Journalism Network Read More

  • "Do No Harm: Photographing Police Brutality Protests" from Authority Collective Download PDF

  • The Poynter Institute

    • “What to do if you are pepper-sprayed” Read More

    • Differentiating tear gas types Read More

    • "Student journalist resources for covering protests safely and sensitively" Read More

  • Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma

    • "How to Safely Cover Street Protests" Read More

    • "Covering Volatile Street Protests" Read More

  • "Best Practices for Journalists Reporting on Police Killings of Black and Brown People" from Advancement Project Read More

  • Digital Media Law Project's Legal Guide with state-based information for citizen media creators Read More

  • Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press' legal defense hotline Contact Form

    • Phone: 1-800-336-4243

    • Email:

  • Student Press Law Center Legal Hotline Contact Form

  • FOI Hotlines Across the Nation Access List


Filming During Pandemic Resources

  • "The Ethics of Documentary Production in a Pandemic" from IDA Read More

  • "Independent Documentary Filming in the time of Corona" from Doc Society, Field of Vision and Sundance Institute Learn More