Jul 10, 2021 - Politics & Policy

TV news crews increasingly threatened with violence

Supporters of US President Donald Trump stand next to media equipment they destroyed during a protest on January 6, 2021

Supporters of President Trump stand next to media equipment they destroyed on January 6, 2021. Photo: Agnes BUN/AFP

Television news crews are being increasingly attacked and threatened with violence while on the job, the Washington Post reports.

Driving the news: About one in five TV news directors surveyed by the Radio Television Digital News Directors Association said their crews had been attacked at some point last year, according to the Post.

  • About half of the incidents occurred while covering mass gatherings, but about 15% happened at random.
  • "What we’re seeing now is part of a disturbing trend of [TV] journalists being in jeopardy in what otherwise are routine stories,” Dan Shelley, the organization’s executive director, told the Post.
  • At least 86% of station managers also said that they have changed some of their security precautions over the past year, including eliminating logos on company vehicles and assigning multiple reporters — and sometimes a "spotter," or security aide — to cover a story.

The big picture: The increase in threats against television news crews follows a significant uptick in attacks on the media, from journalists being arrested and assaulted during protests to receiving persistent verbal attacks from former President Trump, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.

Recent incidents involving attacks on TV news crews include:

  • Two armed suspects sought to rob a San Francisco TV crew's equipment last month while conducting an interview in Oakland. The robbery was prevented by a security guard who pulled a gun on the culprits.
  • A man shot at a TV reporter in San Antonio while reporters were covering the aftermath of a house fire. Police later fatally shot the gunman.
  • The Justice Department began arresting individuals last week who allegedly assaulted reporters and smashed TV cameras during the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

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