In age of disinformation, broadcast leader says people trust local journalists the most

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Whether it's a pandemic or a protest, local journalists are certainly on the frontlines of coverage.

That’s no truer than during Monday night’s 11 p.m. newscast when two 10 News crews were in the midst of the tear gas that was launched into a crowd in Lynchburg.

One broadcast industry leader said local journalists are more important now than ever.

“You're performing a great public service and that public service is actually more important in the age of social media when there is so much disinformation out in the public,” said Gordon Smith, President of the National Association of Broadcasters.

Smith said it’s important for viewers to see and hear the facts, and Monday night the news was as raw as ever.

Protestors crowded the streets of Lynchburg.

On the opposite end of the road were police in tactical gear.

Both groups eventually met on the street and objects were thrown at officers.

Then, plumes of smoke started rising in the midst of protestors.

Right in the middle of the chaos were four 10 News journalists, covering the event for the 11 p.m. news.

“We were trying to keep track of each other this whole time, but we couldn’t breathe; it was so difficult to breathe, it was difficult to see, we were trying to go into the thick of it really,” said Jessica Jewell, 10 News anchor and reporter.

“It was a very, very tough experience,” said Magdala Loussaint, 10 News reporter. “We were in the middle of the tear gas and so I’m going to be graphic a little bit. It was tough to experience, my eyes were burning, I couldn’t see I could not breath, I was throwing up. I felt like throwing up was the only way I felt like I was going to gain consciousness again almost.”

“I can tell I've inhaled some of it, I'm going to tough it out, try and keep going, but no that didn't last very long, I had to just get out of there,” said Jeff Perzan, 10 New photographer.

The scene unfolded on 10 News at 11 as our crews sought safety, hiding behind a building.

“It stings, you literally can't breathe, like your eyes are on fire, so we kind of ended up in the same spot which was great, we knew each other we were okay and we were just checking on each other,” said Perzan.

It’s moments like these Smith said that prove just how important local journalists are to our communities.

“Survey after survey shows that the people trust most their local journalists. That’s why local journalists need to be not afraid to go to work,” said Smith.

About the Author:

After working and going to school in Central Virginia for over five years, Lindsey’s made her way back home to the mountains.