AJM: Broken camera – the safety of journalists and cameramen must be guaranteed during protests
The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) publicly points out examples of problematic attitudes towards media workers by some members of the Ministry of Internal Affairs as well as individuals, part of the crowd, who protested last night in front of the Parliament.
At a moment when officials were depriving people who had previously behaved violently in the public space in front of the Parliament, the cameraman from the 24 News TV station testified that a member of the Ministry of the Interior most likely waved his hand at him, after which the camera fell to the ground and was damaged. The cameraman was rudely prevented from doing his job, precisely because of this contact by a member of the Ministry of Internal Affairs with an accredited media worker who was on the ground to convey part of the atmosphere of the protests to the public. The policeman’s action was unnecessary and material damage was caused, but fortunately, the cameraman was not injured.
The police should have a cooperative approach, i.e., cooperate with journalists and reporters on high-risk events. In doing so, it should not only show them how to protect themselves but also protect them and provide conditions for uninterrupted reporting, which is not the case with the event described above.
We appeal to the Ministry of the Interior to indicate to the members who are present to secure the space and facilities of the public institutions where the protests are organized that they should approach the present journalists and media workers with more caution. An approach is needed that will allow them to safely perform their work to document and conduct information that is of public interest.
Apart from this, journalists complained that citizens who were present at the protests had a wrong attitude towards individual representatives of the media and treated some of the media workers with hostile tones. We remind you that the present journalists who professionally report on the events are in the function of satisfying the public’s right to information. Consequently, obstructing their work encourages censorship in the media, for which they are held accountable in court.
Finally, considering that the protests have a violent character, we point out that the reporting of high-risk events is specific and implies greater exposure to physical and verbal attacks against journalists, and media workers while performing their professional tasks. Therefore, media editors must have the responsibility to send experienced media workers to the field with appropriate protective equipment in order not to expose employees to additional risk.