A veteran newsperson and a photographer who were trying to get information about a reported home invasion ended up becoming the story in Washington, D.C., when they were attacked by a woman.
WUSA’s Bruce Johnson and photographer Danielle Gill went to cover a reported home invasion that took place in the early morning hours on Wednesday. WUSA reported that D.C. Police said four armed men held eight people hostage, assaulted three of them, including a male who had a broom stick thrust into his mouth.
Johnson and Gill reportedly knocked on doors to talk to neighbors and were then on a sidewalk speaking with a mail carrier, when a young woman, who had apparently yelled at them to get away earlier, came to a window and screamed more.
After Johnson said they were on a public sidewalk, the unnamed woman came out a front door spraying mace and yelling profanities. Eventually a punch is thrown that hits both Johnson and Gill. The newsman and photographer told police about the incident and said they aren’t interested in pressing charges.
The Washington Post reports that WUSA news director Fred D’Ambrosi and Johnson both said they discussed the implications of airing the incident, given that they knew little about the circumstances. However, they agreed that it was newsworthy.
“If the definition of news is something unusual happening, this was certainly something unusual,” D’Ambrosi said. “Bruce has been a reporter for 35 years, and this has never happened to him. … [Showing this] might help people understand what journalists go through. I wish I knew more about the woman who came out, but you have to make the best call under the circumstances.”
Another veteran news reporter, who wanted to remain anonymous because he’s familiar with WUSA’s journalists, told The Wasington Post he wasn’t so sure that airing the footage was the right thing.
“This was a borderline call. I would want to know who the woman is before I aired it. You get driven by the pictures [in TV news]. The best video of the day is Bruce Johnson being attacked. But I don’t know if that’s the right call.”
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