During any crisis, up to date trustworthy and impartial news is vital to all governments and authorities worldwide in communicating important advice and information to their populations.
The role of newsgathering falls upon the respective countries’ local, regional, national and the international media. Made up of photographers, reporters, broadcast reporters, camera operators and news crews working tirelessly out in the field supported by a plethora of editors, researchers and production staff covering the events and breaking news on a 24/7 basis.
Without these accredited mainstream media organisations operating, providing the public with vital and timely information in such crises, gossip and misinformation spread quickly, causing panic and potentially life-threatening situations with an added burden on the country’s already struggling authorities.
The UK government recognise the vital role that the press play in their battle against the Coronavirus pandemic and as such, awarded them the status of keyworker, along with other essential services seen to be imperative in the fight. Be it transport, utility, education, healthcare, local/national government and public services -the media, they each have their unique role to play.
Research conducted by The BPPA on interactions between bona fide press photographers and the general public during their coverage of the COVID-19 crisis revealed some very disturbing results in a number of regions across the UK, where photographers reported being threatened with violence, physically assaulted, trolled on social media, death threats, incitement to attack, even being spat at by members of the public whilst working on Coronavirus-related assignments.
This is absolutely despicable behaviour. It is completely unacceptable by any means and at any time and should not be tolerated by any member of the press. These are criminal offences and The BPPA strongly advise any of our members or any non-member to report such incidents to the authorities immediately.
No person, keyworker or other, should go to work with the fear of physical attack or abuse. Press photographers do not have the luxury of reporting from home, they have to be out in the field seeing and communicating what is in front of them and do this with a variety of camera equipment, be that with wide angle, standard or telephoto lenses. The misconception that telephoto lenses in some way give a distorted and more crowded view of a scene is as bizarre as it is ill-informed.
If you should happen to see a press photographer out on assignment during the current crisis and you are curious, please do not be afraid to ask for their credentials and have a chat (while observing social distancing advice please), we’re human like everyone else, with families and loved ones who are just as eager for life to return to normal as you.