Skip to main content

RTDNAPresident Calls For ConversationsAbout Safety

In the wake of continuing attacks on journalists
covering the Middle East, the chairman of the U.S.' principal TV and radio news
association wants TV station news execs to use the issue as an opportunity to
talk to their news teams about how they approach coverage of dangerous

Radio-Television Digital News Association
President Mark Kraham is sending a letter to
members Friday expressing his deep concern about continuing "assaults,
obstructions and detentions" of journalists covering conflicts in the
Middle East, but also his concern about covering the home front.

The Committee to Protect Journalists documented more than
140 assaults on journalists in Egypt, and this week CPJ said they continue
in coverage of unrest in Bahrain, Yemen and Iraq
ABC News reporter Miguel Marquez was beaten Thursday while covering a
protest in Bahrain.

Kraham says finding the balancing point
between safety and telling a "full, unmitigated story" will continue
to be a case-by-case judgment call, but that station executives need to get
together with their staffers to talk about how they make that call.

Kraham, who is a local TV news director himself,
suggests the issue is not one reserved for national correspondents covering protests
abroad. "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," he says. "The
list is vast and presents hundred of questions: 'How close to the fire or
standoff is too close for the journalist's safety?' or 'Is walking among the
protesters essential to telling this story?'"

"My hope is not that you find a specific,
clear cut answer," to those questions, he says, "but, rather, spend
some time discussing with your news team the best way to approach
dangerous-story coverage and instill in them the understanding that there are
situations where safety should not be sacrificed for reporting vigilance and

Responding to the brutal attack on CBS
correspondent Lara Logan, Kraham called it disgusting and
incomprehensible, and said it demonstrated "the worst humanity can
sometimes offer."

"I personally offer Lara the best in her
recovery and extend a gracious 'thank you' for her intrepid reporting on behalf
of the entire RTDNA board and membership."

RTDNA represents more than 3,000 news
directors, associates, teachers and students.