The PJ Tatler

Media Covering Baltimore Riots Discovers Life Not Just a Bowl of Cherries After All

It’s hard out there for a pimp:

Journalists covering riots in Baltimore were attacked and robbed Monday as furious locals confronted police and looted stores after the funeral of Freddie Gray, who suffered a fatal injury in police custody.

Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak was shoved to the ground and robbed of her phone. Baltimore Sun photo editor Chris Assaf was tackled by looters and beaten. Oliver Janney of CNN said he was “jumped,” suffered a broken nose and was robbed of his phone. A cameraman for CCTV America was attacked by protesters and had his camera stolen. A tweeted photo shows blood streaming down his face.

A video team from The Daily Caller also was attacked and robbed. Reporter Connor Wolf suffered a broken nose. Another reporter, Casey Harper, was hit with a liquor bottle that fractured his cheekbone. WNEW-FM reporter Steve Dorsey, meanwhile, was hit in the face by a protester. His phone was stolen. In earlier protests on Saturday an RT reporter was robbed on camera.

The attacks were reported by victims and their colleagues amid the mayhem that yielded 15 building fires and 144 torched vehicles.

Yeah, well, politics ain’t beanbag and neither are riots. I’ve been in the middle of a couple of myself, including the famous “White Night” riot in San Francisco that followed the light sentencing of Dan White for the murders of George Moscone and Harvey Milk. When the bricks and bottles start flying, people get hurt.

The number of assaults committed by protesters against journalists appears a significant departure from demonstrations elsewhere protesting excessive use of force by police. Chip Deale, executive director of the National Press Photographers Association, says most of the attacks appear motivated by protesters’ desire not to be photographed committing crimes. Deale says city officials’ Monday promise to use photos to identify and arrest suspects may heighten the danger for journalists, particularly photojournalists, as protests continue.

Maybe calling riots “protests” is part of your problem, media. Until the press learns to understand what exactly it is covering and call it by name, reporters will be put in peril by their own misapprehension of the world and how it works.