New York, Oct 30 (AP/UNB) — The hostility she's felt from the public recently wasn't necessarily the last straw in television news photographer Lori Bentley-Law's decision to quit the business after 24 years, but it was one of them.
Bentley-Law's recent blog post explaining why she was leaving Los Angeles' KNBC-TV hit home for many colleagues. While President Donald Trump's attacks on the media are usually centered on national outlets like CNN and The New York Times, the attitudes unleashed have filtered down to journalists on the street covering news in local communities across the country.
When a president describes the press as enemies of the people, "attitudes shift and the field crews get the brunt of the abuse," she wrote. "And it's not just from one side. We get it all the way around, pretty much on a daily basis."
The Radio Television Digital News Association is spreading safety and self-defense tips to journalists, most notably advising limits on the use of one-person news crews. The RTDNA has begun compiling anti-press incidents, like last week when an intruder was shot after kicking down glass doors at Fox's local station in Washington. The National Press Photographers Association is developing workshops to spread safety advice to its members.
"The environment has changed," said Chris Post, a photographer for WFMZ-TV in Allentown, Pennsylvania. "I've witnessed the transition."
CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta made news last week by saying Trump's attacks on the media "have got to stop" because he feared someone would get hurt. He's been the target of chants and epithets when covering Trump rallies, including one recently where a man looked at him and made a motion like he was slitting a throat. Since then, three suspicious packages have been addressed to separate CNN offices.
While the examples of Acosta and others who follow Trump are most visible, there are countless other, more private examples that happen across the country — like when Post arrived to cover an immigration rally and a man in a car asked him where he was going.
Told it was a pro-immigration rally, the man became agitated and stepped on his accelerator, stopping just short of hitting Post and giving him a self-satisfied look, Post recalled.
"I'm 6-foot-5, 300 pounds," he said. "I've had somebody try to grab my camera. When it gets to that point, where does it stop? It's a tough time to be a journalist."
Caitlin Penna, a freelance photographer from Durham, North Carolina, said she constantly has her guard up on assignments. Even her conservative family is suspicious of her. "I'm pretty sure my grandmother thinks I'm this far-left liberal because of the things I cover," she said.
One night she was unwinding at a local bar and struck up a conversation with a man nearby. When she discussed what she did, the man said, "you report fake news" and walked away.
Bentley-Law was startled when the essay on leaving her job got 11,000 hits in three days. She usually counts readers to her personal blog in the dozens. Her intention was to tell friends and colleagues why she was leaving, and instead was flooded with texts and emails from frustrated journalists across the country.
"I suppose my experience isn't unique and certainly resonated," Bentley-Law, who declined to be interviewed, said via email.
On her blog, she wrote that "I don't want to be immersed in sadness every day. I don't ever want a cute little girl in pigtails to look up at me and say, 'We hate you.' I don't want to hear 'fake news' shouted at me anymore, or to be flipped off while driving my news van."
She said that some of the incidents she wrote about — the hateful little girl and the man who stuck his bare butt out the window and defecated — predate Trump. There are other factors that contributed to her desire to leave, including shoulder woes from carrying heavy equipment for many years and a constant diet of murders and other depressing story assignments.
But the current environment is definitely part of it. People who drive vans emblazoned with a television station's call letters are obvious targets. One recent day, Bentley-Law wrote that a person in a Mercedes prevented her van from getting off a highway until several exits beyond her destination.
Video journalist Joshua Replogle of The Associated Press was filming flooding from Hurricane Florence in North Carolina's rural Bladen County when a nearby man knocked over his camera and began punching him in the face. His friends muttered, "fake news." So far no charges have been filed, he said.
"The ironic part is my video would have helped him," Replogle said. "It would have brought attention to a small town" where there was flooding, he said.
So far this year the RTDNA's "press freedom tracker" counts 39 incidents of journalists being attacked in the United States, including the June 28 shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, where five people were killed. In less lethal examples, a man purposely crashed a pick-up truck into the side of a Dallas television station, a Miami reporter and a photographer were physically attacked while doing a live shot and a North Carolina crew had its power cable cut while covering a demonstration.
Last year, the first time a count was kept, there were 48 such cases for all of 2017.
While one-person crews have become more popular for television stations looking to cut costs, the Radio Television Digital News Association recommends that their use be curtailed in certain times and places, said Dan Shelley, RTDNA executive director.
"Since the election, people are emboldened more," said Nic Coury, a staff photographer at the Monterey County Weekly and a freelancer in the affluent California county.
Coury has been called part of the liberal scum media, an enemy of the state and been told old that he and his colleagues lie all the time. When conservative Arizona politician and law enforcement officer Joe Arpaio made a local appearance, "it was like walking into the dragon's lair," he said. Coury felt the anger when asking people for caption information.
Still, Coury has given no thought to quitting. Despite Bentley-Law's experience, Shelley said colleges are finding that more people want to get into journalism.
"It matters," Coury said, "and I think now more than ever it matters."
Post said on the same day a man shouted "fake news" at him while driving by in a pickup truck, he had an experience while driving through a fast-food line that gave him hope.
He was handed a cup of coffee and told that the woman in line ahead of him had bought it, wanting to pass along the message "thank you for what you do."
New Zealand, Oct 29 (AP/UNB) — Prince Harry and wife Meghan spoke with people working in the mental-health field and encountered a flightless native bird as they continued their tour of New Zealand on Monday.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are on the last leg of a 16-day tour of the South Pacific. They began their second day in New Zealand by visiting the Maranui Cafe on the Wellington coast, where they spoke to people offering mental-health support through helplines, social media and other programs.
Prince Harry last year spoke out about his own struggles with mental health, telling the Daily Telegraph newspaper that he'd sought counselling after years of suppressing his emotions following the death of his mother Diana, the Princess of Wales, in a car crash when Harry was 12.
At the cafe, Harry talked about the need to remove the stigma from mental health and to encourage people to talk about how they feel.
"Everyone needs someone to turn to, right?" he said.
The couple then took a helicopter to the Abel Tasman National Park on the South Island where it was raining as they were welcomed by an indigenous Maori tribe. Harry told them the forecast had been for even worse weather.
"From my wife, myself and our little bump, it's a blessing to be here," Harry said, making reference to Meghan being four months pregnant.
The couple strolled along on a sandy beach and came across a weka bird, with a ranger saying that they're New Zealand's version of a monkey because they're very cheeky.
New Zealand is home to a number of flightless birds, the most famous being the kiwi. The couple is due to visit a kiwi hatchery later on their trip.
The couple also plans to meet young people training to be part of the film industry and go on public walkabouts in Auckland and Rotorua before leaving on Wednesday.
The couple earlier visited Australia, Fiji and Tonga on their tour.
Wellington, Oct 28 (AP/UNB) — The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are due to arrive in New Zealand on Sunday afternoon for the final stop of their 16-day tour of the South Pacific.
Prince Harry and wife Meghan are scheduled to spend four days in New Zealand, where they will meet with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, go for a trail walk in a national park, meet young people training to be part of Wellington's film industry, and visit a hatchery for New Zealand's national bird, the kiwi.
The couple are due to arrive on the same plane as a number of competitors returning from Sydney's Invictus Games, which Harry founded in 2014. The games give sick and injured military personnel and veterans the opportunity to compete in sports such as wheelchair basketball.
On Saturday, Prince Harry ended the games in Sydney with a speech in front of a crowd of 12,000 people at the closing ceremony, in which he thanked the 500 competitors from 18 nations.
"Our competitors have helped turn the issue of mental health from a sad story to an inspiring one," Harry said. "They want to live rather than just be alive."
The prince said that while the Invictus competitors were often called heroes or legends, they were just ordinary men and women doing extraordinary things and reminding everyone that no challenge is too difficult to overcome.
Harry and Meghan, who is four months pregnant, have also visited Fiji and Tonga on their tour.
Tonga, Oct 26 (AP/UNB) — The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Friday dedicated two forest reserves in Tonga as they continued their trip of the South Pacific.
Prince Harry said Tonga is leading by example and "understands deeply" the impact of environmental changes because the islands of the archipelago are directly affected.
Harry and wife Meghan visited Tupou College to make the dedication. The high school was founded in 1866 and is believed to be the oldest in the region. It's home to the last remaining forest on Tonga's main island, Tongatapu. The other reserve is on the island of Eua.
"Planting trees and conserving forests helps us in so many ways," Harry said. "It is a simple but effective way to restore and repair our environment, clean the air and protect habitat."
The couple dedicated the two reserves to the Queen's Commonwealth Canopy environmental initiative, which was started in 2015 and has been signed on to by 42 of the Commonwealth's 53 countries.
Earlier in the day, the royal couple visited an exhibition celebrating Tongan handicrafts, including traditional mats and tapa cloth. They also met with political leaders.
Tonga, home to just 106,000 people, is also known as the friendly islands. It was a British protectorate before gaining independence in 1970 and remains a part of the Commonwealth group of nations.
On Friday afternoon, the couple left Tonga bound for Australia, where they began their 16-day tour of four nations.
They are returning to Australia to catch the final days of the Invictus Games, which Harry founded in 2014. The games give sick and injured military personnel and veterans the opportunity to compete in sports such as wheelchair basketball.
After Australia, the couple will finish their trip with a four-day visit to New Zealand.
New York, Oct 26 (AP/UNB) — James Karen, a prolific and beloved character actor whose hundreds of credits included memorable appearances in "Poltergeist" and "The Return of the Living Dead," has died. He was 94.
Karen's friend Bruce Goldstein told The Associated Press that he died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He had been battling respiratory ailments.
Few actors had so long and diverse a career. He appeared in Elia Kazan's 1940s stage production of "A Streetcar Named Desire," which starred Marlon Brando. He befriended Buster Keaton in the 1950s and had a brief role in one of the silent star's most unusual projects, "Film," an experimental short written by Samuel Beckett.
He met Marilyn Monroe at the Actors Studio in New York and filmed a commercial with the Three Stooges. He was directed by Oliver Stone in "Wall Street" and David Lynch in "Mulholland Drive." His TV credits ranged from "Dallas" and "The Waltons" to "Seinfeld" and "The Larry Sanders Show."
Millions knew him as the friendly man with the glasses in TV ads for Pathmark. Others remembered him as the foreman in "Return of the Living Dead," the boss in "The China Syndrome" or the notorious Mr. Teague, the real estate developer who moves the headstones — but not the bodies — in "Poltergeist."
On Twitter, Kevin Smith, Gilbert Gottfried and Joe Mantegna were among those sharing tributes. His admirers also included George Clooney. When Clooney received a lifetime achievement award from The American Film Institute earlier this year, he spoke about Karen. He called him a "wonderful character actor" and remembered getting a call from his wife, Alba. She told Clooney that Karen was near death and wanted him to write his obituary.
"So I got out a bottle of booze — pen, paper — and I sat down and I spent the whole night writing about who I thought Jimmy was, his character, what he meant to us," Clooney said.
"A week goes by, then a month. That was four years ago. I called Alba and said, 'What the hell.' She said 'Yeah, Jimmy's doing fine. He just wanted to know what everyone thought about him while he was still alive. He got a bunch of people to do it.'"
Karen was born Jacob Karnovsky in Wilkes-Barres, Pennsylvania. He was interested in theater from an early age and, according to his friend Leonard Maltin, the movie critic, turned down a contract with MGM because he wanted to work on the stage.
His years in the theater led to a close bond with Keaton. In 1957, he and Keaton appeared together in a revival of the play "Merton of the Movies" and they remained friends until Keaton's death in 1966. Karen later hosted a Keaton documentary made by Kevin Brownlow and was among those sharing memories in "The Great Buster: A Celebration," a documentary by Peter Bogdanovich that was just released.
"Jim and Alba had a beautiful apartment in Los Angeles and he had a corner devoted to Buster memorabilia, including one of his hats," Goldstein told The Associated Press. "He would let me invite friends over and have them try on the hat."