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For all the world to see


It’s a byproduct, in some ways, of the broadcast news industry’s slavish addiction to the live stand-up.

“I’m here in front of the house where the murder/fire/assault took place…” “Behind me is the courthouse where Mike Duffy…” “The car went into the river behind me …”
There’s hardly a television news item now that doesn’t start or end — or both — with a reporter and a microphone speaking from the scene.
It wasn’t always that way: American news shows led the charge with having live hits bracket news items at both the beginning and end of the item, and American media consultants, brought in to brighten up Canadian news operations made the same argument here. Take the viewer right out into the field, and give your news item “immediacy and place.” (It’s in the same vein as “don’t have reporters and anchors — have ‘media personalities,’” a move that may also explain the growth of news items that are more about the reporter than they are actual news.)
If it works to land viewers, you can hardly blame broadcasters for demanding the changes.
The problem with live stand-ups, of course, is that whoever is doing them is pinned in front of the camera like a bug in an insect collection: they can’t move from their spot, and whatever happens behind or next to them is suddenly just as much news as they are.
And that has led to another phenomenon — female reporters being sexually harassed or even sexually assaulted, live on air.
The latest occurrence was at a music festival in Squamish, B.C., where a female CBC reporter, Megan Batchelor, was kissed on the cheek during a live stand-up by a teenager, Daniel Davies.
Batchelor filed a complaint with the RCMP about the kiss; Davies later came forward and apologized, and the matter is now closed.
The incident comes on the heels of a series of public and crude interruptions of female broadcast reporters at work: earlier this year, Toronto’s City News reporter Shauna Hunt turned the tables on men who took part in a popular attack, shouting “f—k her right in the p—-y” during a live broadcast.
Other CBC reporters, including Ashley Burke and Charlsie Agro, were attacked on air with the same language, and female reporters say it’s a regular occurrence when they are out in the field. Agro filed a police report after the utterance was shouted out during a live broadcast of the Pan Am Games closing ceremony.
Broadcasters and reporters have been united in likening the attacks to workplace harassments — but while doing so, they’ve ignored a crucial part of the argument.
They argue that they are being harassed in their temporary workplace — but it is also a public place, warts and all.
Broadcasters who want to use the real world for their backdrop have to take what comes with that, and that includes the safety of their workers.
Think about it this way: if you want to dig a hole in your back yard, you dig a hole. If you’re a contractor who wants to dig a hole in public, you need steel-toed boots, reflective vests, barricades — and the occupational health and safety list goes on. It’s a simple fact: employers who put their employees out in workplaces are responsible for those employees’ safety. Wherever those workplaces are.
Broadcasters want to give the impression to viewers that their reporters are out in the world, right on the edge of where things happen.
What they conveniently forget is that those workers are out in the world.
Where things can, and do, and will, happen.

Russell Wangersky is TC Media’s
Atlantic regional columnist. He can be reached at russell.wangersky@tc.tc  
Twitter: @Wangersky

“I’m here in front of the house where the murder/fire/assault took place…” “Behind me is the courthouse where Mike Duffy…” “The car went into the river behind me …”
There’s hardly a television news item now that doesn’t start or end — or both — with a reporter and a microphone speaking from the scene.
It wasn’t always that way: American news shows led the charge with having live hits bracket news items at both the beginning and end of the item, and American media consultants, brought in to brighten up Canadian news operations made the same argument here. Take the viewer right out into the field, and give your news item “immediacy and place.” (It’s in the same vein as “don’t have reporters and anchors — have ‘media personalities,’” a move that may also explain the growth of news items that are more about the reporter than they are actual news.)
If it works to land viewers, you can hardly blame broadcasters for demanding the changes.
The problem with live stand-ups, of course, is that whoever is doing them is pinned in front of the camera like a bug in an insect collection: they can’t move from their spot, and whatever happens behind or next to them is suddenly just as much news as they are.
And that has led to another phenomenon — female reporters being sexually harassed or even sexually assaulted, live on air.
The latest occurrence was at a music festival in Squamish, B.C., where a female CBC reporter, Megan Batchelor, was kissed on the cheek during a live stand-up by a teenager, Daniel Davies.
Batchelor filed a complaint with the RCMP about the kiss; Davies later came forward and apologized, and the matter is now closed.
The incident comes on the heels of a series of public and crude interruptions of female broadcast reporters at work: earlier this year, Toronto’s City News reporter Shauna Hunt turned the tables on men who took part in a popular attack, shouting “f—k her right in the p—-y” during a live broadcast.
Other CBC reporters, including Ashley Burke and Charlsie Agro, were attacked on air with the same language, and female reporters say it’s a regular occurrence when they are out in the field. Agro filed a police report after the utterance was shouted out during a live broadcast of the Pan Am Games closing ceremony.
Broadcasters and reporters have been united in likening the attacks to workplace harassments — but while doing so, they’ve ignored a crucial part of the argument.
They argue that they are being harassed in their temporary workplace — but it is also a public place, warts and all.
Broadcasters who want to use the real world for their backdrop have to take what comes with that, and that includes the safety of their workers.
Think about it this way: if you want to dig a hole in your back yard, you dig a hole. If you’re a contractor who wants to dig a hole in public, you need steel-toed boots, reflective vests, barricades — and the occupational health and safety list goes on. It’s a simple fact: employers who put their employees out in workplaces are responsible for those employees’ safety. Wherever those workplaces are.
Broadcasters want to give the impression to viewers that their reporters are out in the world, right on the edge of where things happen.
What they conveniently forget is that those workers are out in the world.
Where things can, and do, and will, happen.

Russell Wangersky is TC Media’s
Atlantic regional columnist. He can be reached at russell.wangersky@tc.tc  
Twitter: @Wangersky

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