New international press card will help to keep freelance journalists safe

The Frontline Club Charitable Trust today announced the launch of the Frontline Club Charitable Trust Press Card at the FCO’s Defending Media Conference in London. This practical initiative will provide safety and protection for freelance journalists across the world, especially those working in difficult or hostile environments.

Press cards are an essential part of a professional journalist’s kit. They provide proof of a journalist’s legitimacy and credibility, enabling access to essential news stories and events. They also play a key safety role. Carrying a press card can prevent detention or arrest and alleviate suspicion over a journalist’s presence at an event, location or situation. They can make it safer to negotiate difficult checkpoints and can help protect a journalist’s equipment from confiscation. Without a press card, journalists can be exposed to greater risk, especially in critical situations.

But for many freelance journalists, press cards are difficult to obtain.

Freelancers who are not a member of a national union, who work internationally and who are not based in the country of their nationality can often struggle to obtain press cards, especially those who work for multiple clients. The Frontline Club Press Card will ensure that these freelance journalists are better able to secure professional accreditation.

The cards are currently available to registrants of the Frontline Freelance Register (FFR), a representative body for freelance journalists created and run by freelancers. 

All FFR registrants are professional and active journalists who abide by a recognised industry code of conduct. By doing so, they support an increasingly important but vulnerable international reporting community.

Freelancers who are not members of FFR can register their interest at:  [email protected]

In FFR’s soon to be published survey, The State of Freelancing in 2019, 60% of respondents from 70 countries confirmed that press cards are vital to their safety while working. The many comments related to press cards and safety from respondents include:

  • “Security forces in Mexico repeatedly ask for press cards and it helps our safety if we have them, since they are one of the main aggressors against journalists.”
  • “I am a journalist who has been working in Syria for over a year. Because of the existence of large groups with different ideologies there must be a card explaining to all of them that I am a journalist and neutral”
  • “Authorities in the parts of the world where I work generally dislike journalists, but they at least understand the nature of our work. A press card is extremely necessary.”“I work in a country in which it is illegal to operate as a journalist without press accreditation and it is often necessary to show one’s press card. Journalists who are denied a press card are liable to be arrested”
  • “Tense checkpoints and authorities have demanded press cards before and backed off when they were provided.”
  • “A press card is helpful, particularly in tense protest/riot situations but it’s hard (and sometimes expensive) to have an up to date accreditation. No outlet I work for is willing to issue one to a freelancer.”
  • “Without a press card it would be impossible to obtain the necessary permissions to work safely in a hostile environment like Iraq or Syria. More than that, it makes foreign reporters recognizable by security forces.”
  • “Police, authorities, government officials and non-state actors always want to see some official documentation to identify me when I’m photographing events/people and showing them a press card lends legitimacy to why I am at a certain place at a certain time.”

Frontline Club Press Cards will only be issued to verified professional journalists. They are not part of the UK Press Authority scheme.

For further information please visit the Freelancer Hub at the Global Media Freedom Conference, Printworks, London SE16 7PJ on 10th and 11th July or contact Vaughan Smith, Founder, CEO & Trust Executive Director: [email protected].


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