War-Zone Experience Carries Journalists Into Inauguration Coverage


The main concern of journalists covering the presidential inaugurations was protection from the cold in January.

For the swearing-in of Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Wednesday, some reporters and photographers are bringing protective gear that is used in combat areas.

Two weeks after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol in a siege that resulted in five deaths and aware of warnings of extremist violence and the presence of National Guard forces, news outlets reached out to journalists who Have experience reporting on conflict zones What is usually a political pageant.

Ron Haviv, a photographer who has covered wars and political violence around the world for three decades, traveled to Washington on behalf of The Intercept. The weirdness of the moment struck him as he was talking to his editors about security, he said.

Recognition…Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

“We found that we had the same conversations about what to do here or there during the uprisings in Libya or Cairo or during the fighting in Baghdad or attempted coups,” Haviv said. “Suddenly you take a deep breath and find that you are actually talking about the President’s inauguration in Washington, DC.”

The nation commissioned Andrew McCormick, an independent journalist who is a Navy veteran with experience in Afghanistan. Anna Hiatt, the publication’s chief digital editor, said Mr. McCormick kept his cool while covering the Capitol Siege.

“Because he is an ex-military, I have more confidence in his ability to get into a stressful and dynamic situation and not only see and react when something is really wrong, but also get out when it is necessary,” said Mrs. Hiatt said.

The Journalists’ Protection Committee issued a safety notice outlining the risks “potential vehicle ramming into crowds” could include. Reporters Without Borders warned similarly.

CBS and The Associated Press said in statements that they had taken precautions to protect their inauguration reporters, while Reuters said they “doubled” their security efforts before, during and after the presidential election. Time Magazine said it had dispatched two of its journalists with conflict experience, Kim Dozier and Simon Shuster, to cover the event.

The New York Times is sending almost all of its reporters to Washington to cover the inauguration, and many of them have experience reporting in war zones “because the National Security Team and Pentagon correspondents are based in the office,” Elisabeth Bumiller, deputy executive editor and chief executive of the Washington office said in a statement.

Hugh Brumfitt, chief executive of Insurance For UK company, said he recently saw a “significant increase” in news agency requests for insurance coverage for their journalists.

“What’s very interesting is that customers have extended coverage for a few days after the inauguration and may be expecting more marches,” he wrote in an email.

Richard Hall, the senior US correspondent for the British news site The Independent, covered the Syrian civil war and the Islamic State as a correspondent in Beirut, Lebanon. Mr Hall, who will be in Washington for the inauguration, said he plans to stay in constant communication with his colleagues on a WhatsApp group.

“I’m a white man, and I can just fit in with the crowd, which I did when the protests were at the Capitol,” he said. “I am fully aware that most journalists, and especially photographers and videographers, do not have this privilege.”

Vice News will have security advisers with its journalists, and protective gear will be available, said Sebastian Walker, head of the outlet’s Washington office.

“I have reported protests in countries around the world, in the Middle East and in Haiti, and I think it actually becomes more dangerous to do so here,” said Walker, “because of the attitudes of the people you are.” Cover.”

Adam Ferguson, a war photographer who had spent years in Afghanistan, said it was “unusual and surreal” to pack a helmet and other protective gear for his first inauguration as president, which was reported on by New York Magazine. He wasn’t surprised, however, that other journalists with his experience will be in Washington on Wednesday.

“It makes sense to send someone who is prepared to be in a situation like this,” he said. “If there is violence and people who want to harm journalists, it is ultimately a fighting environment.”

Janine di Giovanni, who has covered fighting and its aftermath in the Middle East, the Balkans and Africa for almost 30 years, said Tuesday she was considering going to Washington for the inauguration or not. She added that she had reached out to fellow war correspondents to find flak jackets and stick notes of their blood type on their helmets, as she once did to facilitate medical treatment in sniper-infested Bosnia.

“I’m used to being a war reporter in countries where there were no institutions or the institutions were destroyed very quickly,” said Ms. di Giovanni, now a senior fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. “This is a country that until recently had extremely strong institutions protecting us as we descended into the abyss, and to see what is happening now is incredibly worrying.”