Journalists covering the Egyptian protests are having it tough with protestors turning their ire on them . Anderson Cooper of CNN, Christiane Amanpour of ABC, Katie Couric of CBS and Hala Gorani of CNN all faced mob fury in Cairo in their attempt to cover the protests against the regime of Hosni Mubarak.
The unrest, which till now was largely peaceful, has turned violent with pro-Mubarak mobs joining the fray. With the military waiting and watching, the crowd swelled on Wednesday in the city
Anderson Cooper reported from Egypt that he and his crew were repeatedly punched and attacked by pro Mubarak protestors. They tried to snatch the camera, hit the producer, a lady, and punched Cooper in the head. According to him, “ Suddenly a young man would come up to you and punch you in the face and the instinct is to hit back but we had to refrain as the situation would have got worse with retaliation.” He said that they maintained calm and kept on retreating.
Another CNN journalist, Hala Gorani was surrounded by pro-Mubarak protestors and pushed against a barricade but was saved by a kind soul who claimed she was with him. She reported, “There is a lot of anger from protestors, they are attacking journalists and anyone western looking.
Christiane Amanpour, while looking from reactions from the crowd, was asked to go back and warned not to go further or she would meet her destiny. One protestor kept on shouting , “We hate America and Americans.” She was prudent enough to leave at just the right moment although their car was attacked and the windshield broken.
CBS News network’s Katie Couric was not allowed to beam and was surrounded by protestors and even she had to flee before things got out of hand.
Journalists constantly face threat while covering any kind of protests as it takes just a spark to turn mob fury against you and the press is an easy and very visible target to register protests.
The media is aware of the fact and journalists covering wars are regularly sent for combat training modules with the armed forces, durinh which there are hostile environment training sessions and basic combat gear is also provided.
According to the International News Safety Institute, 2010 alone saw 95 journalists being killed all over the world. 18 American journalists have died covering the Afghanistan war.
Finally it depends on the individual journalist; there are many out there for whom the story needs to be told, they follow their noses and heart and not their brains or prudence. As one veteran newswire journalist puts it, “If we let the threats scare us off then we let them win; these stories need to be told and we are willing to do it.”