Andrea Rondeau column: Considerations of reporter safety sometimes come up on the job

We have to make judgement calls all the time as to whether a situation will be safe or not.

As a small-community paper, the safety of my reporters isn’t something I have to think about all that often.

We attract critics, sure, but not generally the dangerous kind who take their vitriol beyond a haranguing email, letter to the editor, or insulting Facebook post. Though I have had the experience of becoming a sort of confidante to someone else’s stalker, but that’s another story.

And when it comes to the kind of news we cover, we’re generally not risking life and limb.

But it was a discussion that came up this week as I had to decide which reporter to send down to Lewis Street to get the story on the big clean-up happening down there.

RELATED: Police and bylaw officers descend on Lewis Street in Duncan for massive clean-up

One of my reporters said flat out that she didn’t feel safe wading into the midst of it, having recently driven down Lewis Street and seen the extent of the problems there. One of my other reporters isn’t so steady on her feet and uses a walker, and was not suitable for the assignment. Fortunately, Robert Barron is pretty fearless and headed out, adrenaline pumping. But even he, when he got back, said he had not expected what it was like there. He’d had to move quickly to avoid someone who began screaming at him and threatening to grab his camera. There was definitely an element of risk involved in the assignment.

As reporters we regularly head out in the dark of night to places we don’t know to meet people we’ve maybe exchanged a phone call or two with. We have to make judgement calls all the time as to whether a situation will be safe or not. To mitigate the risk we let each other know where we’re going, and when we expect to be back. Anyone who may be sketchy gets an invite to the office. (Now don’t get upset — just because we asked you to meet us for an interview at the office doesn’t automatically put you in the sketchy category. Often that’s us trying to squeeze every minute out of the day. But it’s also something we do with a potentially volatile interview.)

Sometimes we’re reporting on potentially dangerous situations like fires, or crashes where we have to carefully gauge how close we can safely get while still staying out of the way of emergency personnel and keeping ourselves from becoming more a part of the story than we want to be.

The job can also take a psychological toll as well — an innappropiate sense of humour helps a lot.

So while reporter safety doesn’t come up that often, it is something that we have to consider in our line of work.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Lake Cowichan fire department celebrates long service

The annual event sees several earn awards as well as the retirement of Ray Bourassa after 30 years

’Tis the season for holiday cheer with a Ken Lavigne Christmas

Enjoy the magic of the season with the region’s largest indoor snowball fight

Cowichan Caps’ McIntyre and Boucher commit to Div. 1 programs

Two Cowichan Valley Capitals players have committed to NCAA Div. 1 hockey… Continue reading

Robot proposed for cleaning of Town of Lake Cowichan reservoir

“It’s a low risk techonology that should be explored”

Swan seeking long-term Lake Cowichan residents

Kathryn Swan has lived in Lake Cowichan for 17 years but still… Continue reading

B.C. to restrict nicotine content, bring in 20% tax on vaping products

Province will also restrict candy and fruit flavoured vaping products to adult-only stores

Tolko shuts B.C. divisions for two weeks over holidays

Head office to close from Dec. 23-27; two weeks’ downtime runs Dec. 21-Jan. 6

B.C. government working with RCMP to address $10 million in budget cuts

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth issues statement following report of RCMP cost-cutting

Port Moody mayor says stayed sex assault charge related to ‘awkward date’

Rob Vagramov said charge was related to a string of dates in 2015

UBC conference draws fire over speaker from Chinese tech company blacklisted in U.S.

The company that has been blacklisted by the U.S. over links to the repression of China’s Muslim minority

‘City that protects rapists’: Sexual assault survivor slams Kelowna mayor for defending RCMP

Heather Friesen spent the morning handing out flyers around city hall calling out the mayor

Use of force deemed justifiable in arrest of suspect after snowy chase near Nanaimo

Independent Investigation Office of B.C. reports on incident from late last winter

‘It’s been 12 years’: Father of murdered B.C. real estate agent pleads for mayor’s help

Lindsay Buziak was stabbed to death on Feb. 2, 2008 in Saanich. Her case is unsolved.

B.C. woman sends fight to reduce preventable medical errors to Victoria

Teri McGrath and South Okanagan senior’s centre members presented 150 signature petition to local MLA

Most Read