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SoE condemns attacks on UK journalists

Posted on: June 5, 2020 by Ian Murray

The Society of Editors has repeated its call for politicians and other prominent voices to help prevent mistrust in the media after violent attacks on journalists covering protests in London.

A freelance photographer was taken to hospital with a head wound and an Australian news correspondent was assaulted during coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests that followed the killing of George Floyd in the United States.

It was reported that a group of between 20 and 30 protestors were verbally assaulting journalists just before NUJ-accredited freelance photographer named only as Anthony was struck by a bottle and lost consciousness. He was taken to hospital where he needed stitches and suffered slight concussion.

A large group of protestors did create a defensive wall around the stricken press man. Others were heard shouting ‘f..k the Daily Mail’ shortly before the bottle was thrown.

Sky News producer Andy Hughes captured the aftermath of the attack and tweeted the photograph above.

Ian Murray, executive director of the Society of Editors, said there had been repeated warnings given that the role of the media was being undermined and threats created to journalists by constant attacks from politicians and other sources.

“Only recently the Society wrote to the Prime Minister asking him to take up the issue of violence directed against journalists in the United States with President Trump. Now alarmingly we see attacks being made on journalists here in the UK. 

“Sadly, the constant attacks on the mainstream media by some in the political arena and other prominent voices leads others to believe journalists do not play a vital role in our society. This not only adds to problem of mistrust and the spread of fake news, but, as we have seen in London and the US, places journalists in very real risk of harm.” 

After the London attack, Anthony told Press Gazette he noticed a “mob” of 20 to 30 people haranguing a pair of journalists being led away by police. In a video of the incident, protesters can be heard shouting “f..k the Daily Mail”.

He added: “I was trying to film this incident when, from nowhere, I was hit with a glass bottle over the forehead and blacked out.

“Thankfully a lot of the protesters there had formed a kind of cordon around me. 

Anthony said: “It was scary. I’ve been doing this now for ten years maybe, freelancing video, and I’ve been to protests before, lots of them, and not experienced that kind of tension in the air.”

In a separate incident Australian news correspondent for Nine News Europe was attacked while on air. The man was chased down and arrested.