Roughly 25 Long Island journalists attended a virtual discussion on the challenges confronted by reporters during times of conflict, hosted by the Press Club of Long Island on July 9. The panel primarily examined the recent Black Lives Matter protests, at which police and demonstrators have, at times, assaulted reporters.
Panelists offered concrete tips for staying safe in the field. For example, speaker Darius Radzius suggested never turning your back on protesters and police when filing a report by phone in the field. Find a building or tree that you can lean against, so you have a full view of the scene in front of you. Radzius, who reports for News 12 Networks and 1010 WINS News Radio, was attacked from behind during a recent protest that turned riotous in Brooklyn. One looter may have mistakenly thought Radzius was calling police, when he was filing a report to his news desk.
Wasim Ahmad, a journalism professor at Quinnipiac University, has covered many protests, notably the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011. He suggested carrying an additional “dummy” memory card for photo and video in case police try to confiscate your real card.
Cecilia Dowd, on-air reporter for Newsday and a PCLI board member, covered nearly a dozen of the recent BLM protests across Long Island. She emphasized the importance of situational awareness, looking around and understanding what’s happening around you. Keep to the sides of the protest so you know what’s going on.
See our statement condemning violence against reporters, in particular Radzius, here.
Bill Bleyer, retired Newsday reporter and past PCLI president, moderated the discussion. PCLI President Scott Brinton offered welcoming remarks.