1.1 Getting to know each other (20 – 30 mins)

  1. The trainer uses an ice breaker activity from the curriculum resources section to stimulate discussion and facilitate the building of confidence and trust between participants. The trainer can also use their own ice breaker activity instead.
  2. At the end of the exercise, the trainer explains the goals and objectives of the four-day course.


  • Participants get to know each other and build an atmosphere of trust in the training.
  • The trainer sets out goals and objectives for the four-day training.
  • The trainer speaks about how training has been created specifically for women journalists in the region.

Materials & resources

For ice breaker activities: See curriculum resources section

1.2 Thinking about threats and risk holistically I (30 mins)

  1. The trainer writes up on the board the following questions:
    • Who are you?
    • What are you trying to do?
    • What or who are you trying to protect?
    • Who is trying to stop you?
  2. The trainer walks the participants through the questions to ensure that they understand them. 
  3. The trainer asks the journalists to make notes on the answers. These can be based on their own experiences or experiences of colleagues.
  4. The trainer puts the participants into pairs to discuss their answers. Please note that some people may not feel comfortable sharing and that is perfectly fine.
  5. The trainer elicits feedback to the class which can be written up on the board.
  6. The trainer closes the session either by asking for feedback from the journalists asking them what they have learned from the exercise. Were there any surprises or things that they previously hadn’t thought about?

Journalists may not want to share their answers with others, including the trainer. If there are journalists who are not comfortable sharing information then the trainer can focus on asking the journalists if they felt they learned anything new from his exercise or if it has made them think about their safety in a different way.


  • Build an awareness among participants of the links between individual risk and well being.
  • Participants gain a greater self awareness of their role and profile and what that means for them in terms of safety and well being.

Materials & resources

  • Pens & paper
  • Whiteboard/ flip chart

This section has been created working with materials from the IREX SAFE training curriculum

1.3 Thinking about threats and risk holistically II (30 mins)

Trainers should include context-specific examples in this section

  1. The trainer asks participants to work in small groups to map the dangers they feel they face working as women journalists in their country/region, including physical, digital, and psychosocial. Participants write these down on post it notes. 
  2. Participants give feedback to the class. Group discusses the most common dangers and the trainer writes these up on the board. 
  3. The trainer walks through risks, including but not limited to;
    • Arrest and detention
    • Covering a demonstration
    • Online harassment
    • Traffic accidents
    • Surveillance
    • Stress
  4. The trainer elicits topics which they may not think of as risks, such as sexual harassment in the workplace.  
  5. The trainer introduces threats and risk and teaches the difference between the two. Threats are important to identify but you are unlikely to stop or control them. For example, an earthquake. Risk involves situations that arise from a threat and can be controlled, for example preparing a grab bag in case of an earthquake. 
  6. Participants look again at their lists and identify threats and risks. Trainer elicits feedback. Participants are then asked to rank the risks in order of likelihood of happening. 
  7. Feedback as a group. Anything they find surprising? Any trends between countries?


  • Participants understand the difference between risk and threats and how this applies to them physically, digitally, and in terms of their well-being. 
  • Participants create a list of dangers that they face and are able to rank them in terms of probability.
  • Participants have space to share their understanding of risk as a woman journalist. 

Materials & resources

  • Pens & paper
  • Post-it notes
  • Whiteboard/ flipchart

1.4 Mitigating Risk I – Risk Assessment (60 mins)

  1. The trainer introduces the concept of mitigating risk and asks participants what they currently do to protect themselves.
  2. Participants tell the group what they currently do to mitigate risk. 
  3. The trainer introduces a video session. Tells participants they are going to hear about a women journalist talking about risk assessments. The trainer tells the journalists to take notes while watching the video as there will be feedback to the class afterwards.
  4. The class watches the video and takes notes. The trainer then facilitates a class discussion based on the points raised in the video.
  5. Did the journalists learn anything new? Was anything interesting or surprising for them?

Introducing the risk assessment process

Trainers should mention the importance of doing a risk assessment for everyday life as well as per story. This is especially true for journalists living in sensitive regions or who have previously been targeted. 
Note: journalists may feel this is not useful and that their editors will not use it. These comments are perfectly valid.

  1. Participants are asked whether they or their editors use a risk assessment document. Have they heard of them? What do they know about them? Do they know when to fill them out etc. Feedback to the class. 
  2. The trainer hands out the risk assessment document and participants look through it. The trainer walks them though the risk assessment document.
  3. Participants ask questions.
  4. The trainer tells participants that the aim of the course is to complete a section of the risk assessment each day and why this is important. 
  5. Questions and feedback. 


  • Participants understand that there are ways to mitigate risk.
  • Participants are introduced to the risk assessment document. 

Materials & resources

1.5 Mitigating Risk II – Communications Plan (40 mins)

  1. Group circle discussion about if and when participants tell others, such as their editor or partner, that they are out speaking with a source. Feedback to the class.
  2. The trainer introduces the concept of a communications plan and explains what it is.
  3. Participants are asked about their experiences using them. Do they have a more informal version or other ways that they keep themselves safe?
  4. The trainer presents best practice around communications plans:
    • Choosing the correct people to include in the plan
    • Next of kin
    • Telling people about the document
    • Sharing the document with others
    • Having up-to-date contact details
  5. Participants are handed the communications plan. They look through it and decide if it is useful for their context and whether they would add or remove anything.
  6. Participants asked about the benefit of a communications plan. They give feedback
  7. Participants complete the communications plan by themselves. 
  8. Wrap up feedback to the class on who they chose and why they chose them. Any areas they need to still complete? For example, legal support.


  • Participants are introduced to a communications plan and understand the benefits and limitations of them. 
  • Participants complete a communications plan and should be able to use it.

Materials & resources

1.6 Digital Security – Understanding digital risk (90 mins)

Trainers should include context-specific examples in this section

  1. Looking at regional threats.
  2. Examples of digital security issues in the region. 
  3. The trainer takes participants through some examples of digital security issues in the region. 
  4. Participants look at examples in pairs and highlight main points. They then give feedback to the group outlining main points.
  5. Group discussion around regional threats. Do they know about them? Who are they concerned about? What would they do or what are they doing? Are there support networks for digital help?
  6. The trainer talks about why it is important to consider digital, physical and well being together. It’s important not to see them as separate. Part of their risk assessment is considering digital risk. The trainer gives an example that shows how physical, digital and well being are linked. For example, using your personal phone to cover a demonstration for work and being detained by the security forces.

Account Security

  1. The trainer explains the importance of securing and managing accounts. Explains that accounts hold a lot of data which can make participants vulnerable if breached.
  2. The trainer tells participants to work alone to map out general information in their accounts, for example financial data and CVs. 
  3. The trainer elicits feedback from the class. Any surprises?
  4. Participants make a list of next steps they will take to clean up their data.
  5. The trainer elicits what would happen if someone gained unauthorised access to their online accounts, for example their personal email.
  6. The trainer elicits damage that could be done
    • Access personal information about family
    • Data about health or financial transactions
    • Contact data of family, friends, sources
    • Harm to reputation
  7. The trainer tells participants that there are several steps they can take to protect their accounts from outside intrusion.

Passwords and 2FA

  1. The trainer explains that having a good password is key to securing accounts. 
  2. The trainer elicits common pain points from participants about passwords. 
  3. The trainer explains that what is needed is long, unique passwords with no personal data.
  4. The trainer explains why, dangers of reusing passwords, how accounts are breached. 
  5. The trainer teaches what a good password looks like. 
  6. The trainer asks how they can create and remember good passwords? Points them to the risk assessment document and reminds them about their own personal risk – choosing an option that works for them will depend on personal risk assessment. 
  7. Either create a long, unique password and write them down and store them somewhere safe or they can use a password manager.

This will not be appropriate for people who are concerned about having their house being broken into or searched. By people who live in an insecure environment or by people who travel a lot.

  1. The trainer teaches what a password manager is and what it does. The trainer shows examples of password managers, for example 1 password.
  2. Participants asked to look at the various options and ask questions about how they work. 
  3. The trainer addresses issues such as:
    • Security of password manager
    • Common issues, such as traveling with a password manager
    • Creating a good password for password managers
  4. The trainer explains to journalists that there is another layer of security they can add to their accounts and that is two factor authentication (2FA). 
  5. The trainer gives an example of 2FA, used by banks when they send an SMS to someone’s phone.
  6. The trainer asks who is using 2FA. 
  7. The trainer explains that there are three types of 2FA, SMS, App and security key. The trainer is encouraged to show these visually to facilitate learning.
  8. The trainer asks participants why it is important to use 2FA. An attacker will need an email address, a password and code/device to access the account. This limits the possibility of a successful account. 
  9. The trainer encourages journalists to turn on 2FA for all accounts not only work related. This is because an attack will target all accounts not just work ones. 
  10. Participants are asked to download the Google authenticator app and link one account to it. 

Scenario: Help a journalist secure her accounts

  1. Using the materials in the extra resources section, participants work in pairs to discuss how best to secure the journalist’s account and information.
  2. Feedback to the group and thoughts.


  • Participants start thinking about digital security issues as part of the threats they face. 
  • Participants gain insight into threats in the region and how that could put them at risk.
  • Participants learn about secure passwords and two-step verification.

Materials & resources

1.7 Wrap up (20 mins)

  1. Participants gather in a circle. The trainer gives feedback to the class on progress made so far. The trainer gets feedback from the class on how they feel the day has gone.
  2. The trainer asks everyone in the circle to say one thing they have learned that is new and one thing they are looking forward to learning the next day.
  3. Group circle discussion about if and when participants tell others, such as their editor or partner, that they are out speaking with a source. Feedback to the class.


  • Participants get a chance to reflect on the day and to ask any questions or resolve any doubts.

Materials & resources

  • Pens & paper
  • Whiteboard/ flip chart

Day 1 – Understanding risk

Total duration: 5 hours


This day of training gives women journalists the space to think about risk in terms of their own experiences and understanding. The training session looks at risk holistically; examining the link between physical, mental, and digital when it comes to safety. It also provides participants with tools for mitigating risk, including risk assessment documents, communication plans, and basic steps for securing their online accounts.


By the end of this training day, participants should be able to:

  • Have a more in depth understanding of what risk entails and how it affects them physically, mentally, and digitally.
  • Be familiar with a risk assessment
  • Make a communications plan and know how to use it
  • Take basic steps to secure their online accounts

Digital safety preparation

Journalists are advised to take the Totem course on Secure Passwords in advance

Curriculum Resources

For this training day, we have developed specific materials and activities to accompany the curriculum. You can find all resources of day 1 here.