FCC’s Pai Commends Broadcast Coverage of Civil Unrest

Reporters brave pepper bullets, rocks to tell story

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai issued a statement Sunday as broadcasters continued to put themselves in harm’s way to cover the protests, violence and looting that has broken out in the wake of the death of George Floyd six days ago.  

“I commend the extraordinary efforts of local broadcasters to keep Americans informed about the protests and violence taking place in our nation’s cities following the awful killing of George Floyd,” he said.  

Related: CPJ to Journalists: Be Careful Out There

He did not cite any particular incident, but a law enforcement officer in Louisville, Ky., appeared to fire what were described as pepper bullets directly at a WAVE-TV Louisville news crew, an incident that drew the condemnation of the National Association of Broadcasters and the SAG-AFTRA union. 

Louisville Police later apologized for the incident, according to the station, and a spokesperson said the video would be reviewed “for potential discipline.” 

WLKY-TV Louisville also tweeted that its chief photojournalist was attacked:

At WIS-TV Columbia, S.C., reporter Miranda Parnell was hit by a rock, tweeting video as she left the scene, bloodied but still reporting: 

 

In Pittsburgh, KDKA-TV photojournalist Ian Smith said that he was both threatened and attacked by protestors and saved by protestors, tweeting a picture of himself inside an ambulance.

Brianna Whitney, who reports for KTVK and KPHO TV Phoenix, was accosted on air and a security guard protecting station crews was attacked during a live shot.

“Those who work for local television and radio stations are often putting themselves at personal risk to serve the public interest, and they must be allowed to do their jobs without being threatened or attacked,” Pai said. “I hope that they and all Americans stay safe.”