How Do I Know if My Sources and I May be Threatened?

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, more than 30 journalists are murdered every year on average, and the murderers go unpunished in nearly nine out of ten cases. Risk can come from many places. Each time you begin a story, you should take a moment to assess potential risks.

The first step to understand whether you are threatened is to assess your risk. If your story covers a subject with a high chance of risk, it is likely you or your sources will be threatened.

Be mindful of your surroundings and avoid interacting with anyone you do not trust. There is no checklist for assessing your risk in any situation. Security is a process.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you living in a dictatorship?
  • Is corruption a problem?
  • Have other journalists faced threats covering this topic?
  • Does your story investigate government officials or criminal groups?
  • Is the subject of your story being intentionally hidden?
  • Are police unresponsive to the concerns of citizens?


If you answered Yes to any of these questions, you or your sources are likely to be threatened during the course of your story. Be mindful of the chances you might be taking with your life and your sources.

Things to Remember

Follow this process any time you consider the merits of a story. If you cannot account for these threats, do not do the story. Never begin a story without first making a threat assessment that considers the impact on yourself and your sources.

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