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What to do going forward: CBS reporter sexually assaulted in Egypt

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by The Basement, Feb 15, 2011.

  1. The Basement

    The Basement Member

    this sickened me.

    I remember seeing a report by christiane amanpour where the crowd turned ugly and you could see the fear in her eyes as she cut the interview off and turned to leave.

    What can news organizations do in these situations? Do they have to spend X dollars to protect female reporters in these parts of the world? Do women need to be kept out of these uncontrolled areas as reporters, and perhaps just lead the coverage from another location? I don't know what the right answer is.

    Edit: I posted busted link & amended subject title ...
  2. The Basement

    The Basement Member

    Re: CBS reporter sexually assaulted in Egypt

    I guess the reason I put this over here - rather than contribute to the threads on "sports and news" - is the role news gathering organizations play in the security of its correspondents, or whether they need to make news gathering decisions based on the gender/ethnicity of its reporters.

    If a reporter is a reporter is a reporter - should security (or lack thereof) be the same regardless of gender and ethnicity? Should producers/editors make staffing decisions based on these things if it could directly affect the safety of the people involved? Or - can all you do is inform everyone of the risk you're taking and just deal with whatever may happen when/if it does?
  3. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    I've kind of struggled with this one. There really aren't any easy answers.

    Well, one thing is pretty easy for me; early on the networks flew in their anchors to use Tahrir Square as a dramatic backdrop for the evening news. That was stupid and dangerous, and they quickly figured that out and got the hell out.

    There is, on some basic TV level, a value to having familiar faces reporting from the center of the story. People watch Anderson Cooper because they like and/or trust Anderson Cooper, so there is some logic to having him report there. The problem is, that requires going into a mob and throwing a powerful light onto a rich white American with a microphone. So Anderson Cooper get punched in the face, and Anderson's sore nose becomes a big deal in a situation where it shouldn't mean a thing.

    It gets even more complicated with someone like Lara Logan, a beautiful young western woman in a mob in the Middle East. Clearly, it turned out to be a very bad idea... but she's CBS' chief foreign correspondent. It's kind of hard to not use her there.

    It seems to me the best way to cover this is with producers -- preferably Middle Eastern, so they blend -- to go in and shoot the activity as unobtrusively as possible. I've got a phone that shoots in HD, and it's perfect for that sort of thing. That way you can keep the "talent" away from the center and still tell the story.
  4. 93Devil

    93Devil Well-Known Member

    I asked a guy I work with you spent a shitload of time in the military about the Egypt mess, and he said Mubarak was the only thing keeping Egyptians from killing Americans.

    He was a fucker. But, for better or worse, at least he was our fucker.
  5. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

    I know how sexist this will sound but I'll type it anyway.

    It's the height of fucking stupidity to put a woman in that situation and the producer who ok'd it should be out of work tonight.

    You've got a large group of (mostly male) hyped-up protestors who just overthrew a dictator celebrating in what was essentially a country with very little law and order at that point. And it's a country whose male populace has very little regard for women to begin with. Yet people are surprised something like this could happen?

    Peaceful protest or not, it was still an out-of-control mob.

    There is absolutely no news value in putting her in that situation. There is however the shock value of putting an attractive woman in a dangerous situation. Sadly, that seems to have been more important to CBS than her safety.

    As PC pointed out, send a crew in, get video as unobtrusively as possible and get the hell out. Let the correspondent do the stand up from someplace secure.
  6. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    AQB, I don't necessarily disagree with you here, but it's not so clear cut.

    It's still the reporter's job to actually go there and report, and the good ones don't want to sit in a hotel room a mile from the story and have producers hand them tapes. I guarantee you Lara Logan was in the crowd because she wanted to be there, not because a suit in New York insisted she wade into it. It's not shock value; she's the chief foreign correspondent. She needs to be covering the story, but finding the balance is tricky. Taking a job like hers means sometimes putting yourself at risk. It's not always easy to tell when the risk is too great, or to find a way out when things get too ugly.

    I think there was a better way to handle this, but I fully understand why they tried to do it the way they did it.
  7. The Basement

    The Basement Member

    Yes - she needs to be "on location" - but not in the heart of a mob that on more than one documented occasion showed its disdain for not only American reporters, but women. A building roof overlooking the crowd? Maybe on the edges of the activity?

    I watched the Amanpour report with my wife (I wish I could remember the day - but it ended with her and the crew getting out very quickly and their car being damaged with thrown rocks and bottles) and the look that came over Amanpour's face as the interview with protesters went on gave my wife the chills.

    Does this all fall on the individuals - the reporters, the producers and their decisions on the ground? What's the network (or newspaper's/wire service's) responsibility?
    And if the network (and the individual) say no, we need to be in the heat of it - then should security be provided?
  8. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

    And it's the producer's job to know when it's not safe to do your job.
  9. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    But, does a reporter need to be in the middle of the mob to tell people there's a mob in the square? It's like when hurricanes hit. Does the talent need to be out in the rain to tell us its raining? Sometimes I think the TV folks do that just for drama's sake, when as has been suggested, there are other ways to get that story ... or perhaps work on a different angle of the story?
  10. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    "Security" is probably not an answer. There's no good security against a giant mob, and in the end it probably attracts attention more than it protects you.

    Ultimately it falls on the crew on the ground, because they're the ones who know what it's like there. You can't gauge danger from a desk in Manhattan.

    Again, it's really hard to balance the danger with the need to do the job. When you become a foreign correspondent you assume a hell of a lot of risk. The story isn't happening on a rooftop overlooking the city. Again, I think ultimately the best move was to put her there while someone who is less of a target gathers the story on the ground, but doing that is a big compromise and I fully understand why they tried to do it the other way.
  11. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    And how does the producer know? The producer is with the crew. When shit gets out of hand the producer finds out the same time the talent does.
  12. PCLoadLetter

    PCLoadLetter Well-Known Member

    Big difference between a massive political protest and rain. Rain doesn't have demands. Rain has no mood. Rain doesn't have conflict with police of the military or political opponents. Someone absolutely has to be there in the middle of it. Ideally it should be the reporter, who should be reporting what she sees and not what a producer tells her. Practically it doesn't always work.
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