RTDNA Chairman Asks ‘How Close to the Standoff is Too Close for the Journalist’s Safety?’

By Andrew Gauthier 

Mark Kraham, RTDNA chairman and the news director of WHAG in Hagerstown, MD, has written an open letter addressing the dangers that journalists have encountered in the past several weeks, both domestically and in places like Egypt and Bahrain.

He condemns the censorship that is present in countries such as Libya and Yemen and, mentioning the troubling attack on CBS’s Lara Logan, champions the perseverance and resolve that journalists have exhibited while covering breaking news in Egypt and elsewhere.

Here’s an excerpt:

As is true with all news managers, there’s always a concern for the personal safety of your staff. With the recent events in Egypt and other volatile locations, I am left pondering where the balancing point is in keeping journalists safe while telling a full, unmitigated story.

Even on the local level, journalists are subject to covering an array of stories that put them in real danger: fires, crashes, police stand-offs, demonstrations, hurricanes, earthquakes. The list is vast and presents hundred of questions resembling:

“How close to the fire or standoff is too close for the journalist’s safety?” or, “Is walking among protesters going to be safe for the journalist?”

Kraham says that every situation ultimately comes down to a “real-time judgment call.” It’s important, though, for news managers to review basic journalistic guidelines with their teams, Kraham advises, so that everyone has a foundation for making the right decisions when faced with a potentially dangerous situation.