Whether you are covering a forest fire, a protest, a hurricane, or an earthquake, reporters can find themselves in dangerous situations. It’s a reality news crews, or journalists alone on assignment could face on assignment, and was the focus of a session Friday, “News Safety and Stress for Journalists: An Open Discussion” at the Excellence at Journalism Conference 2017 in Anaheim, California.
Here are some tips from KNX Radio’s 40 plus year veteran radio reporter, Pete Demetriou, for staying safe in the field:
- Do realize that your life is more important than the story
- Do scope out the area first in your car. Drive around the block four or five times before you get out and make sure it is safe
- Do ask yourself: Do I feel comfortable getting out of the car here?
- If you encounter tear gas or pepper spray do: Use this solution to help. Half saline solution or distilled water with half Johnson’s No Tears Baby Shampoo. Pour in your eyes until you can see clearly.
- Avoid getting between the police and the protestors
- Do consider the risk factor, assess the situation before you get involved, if it appears to be sketchy be prepared.
- Do walk away if need be
- If you are going to wear a bullet proof vest, do wear it under your clothing so as not to be a target.
- Don’t stand down-wind from pepper spray or tear gas
- Do keep your car pointed away from the danger and keep the engine running with the AC off
- Do talk to others at work about the stress you have endured covering traumatic events