11 March 2015

Journalist Safety: Risks of The Trade

Social media has been abuzz with reports of a media team being robbed at gunpoint last night.

Vuyo Mvuko of SABC news along with his crew were robbed of their cellphones and a laptop outside Milpark Hospital in Gauteng.

The robbery was captured on camera while the team were getting ready to do a live broadcast.

Fortunately no one was harmed and Mvuko has been able to speak about the incident on air, explaining what exactly happened.
Image Credit: ECR
Which brings me to the topic of journalist safety.

I've been in the industry for a few years and have had the opportunity to report on some frightening incidents, from a bomb scare to riots. And each time you set out, you psych yourself up for what lies ahead.

In the case of the bomb scare, I was at the building even before the sniffer dogs could complete their inspection, and was busy taking pictures and getting comments.

Fortunately there was no bomb, but if there were, and had it been detonated, I would not have had a chance to escape injury.

The same goes for the riots. The situation could have gotten ugly. Journalists could have been attacked by protesters or even hit by a stray rubber bullet, but they didn't.

However, no matter how many times you go through these kinds of situations, I think it's uncommon for a journalist to be more paranoid of something like getting robbed or mugged, rather than a volatile story they're covering.
Image Credit: Google Images.
We've gone out to remote locations, drug dens, hostage situations and the like, equipped with expensive cameras, radio and tv journalists equipped with mics etc. and our biggest worry would be scratching our equipment.

So this latest incident with Vuyo and his team does come as a surprise that robbers would go that extra mile, not to steal the expensive equipment, but steal their cellphones, and that on live tv.

Many people are asking, "just how stupid are these people, surely they saw the cameras. Did they think the cameras were off? Or did they just not care if they were being recorded?"

While we may never know just what these robbers were thinking, one can say that they were really brazen.
Image Credit: Google Images.
The footage recorded can be used to identify them as it is being spread like wildfire via social media. Someone is bound to recognise these guys.

So while we hope the criminals are caught, we are left with a point to ponder over.

As a journalist, one takes up the cause of spreading the word and keeping everyone informed.

And while you may be reporting from a fun or light hearted situation, are you faced with almost the same danger as reporting from a shoot out or even a war zone?

Whether you're a journalist or not, I'd like to hear your views. Why not leave a reply in the comments?

You can watch the video of Vuyo Mvoko and his team being robbed here.

You can also watch Mvoko's interview after the robbery here.

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