Photojournalist Vanessa Charlot on Why Covering News Has Become More Dangerous

By Drew Taylor | Originally published: The Wrap

Power Women Summit 2021: ”We were attacked in a way that was unprecedented in the United States,“ Charlot says

Every year at TheWrap’s Power Women Summit, the winners of the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Courage Awards are highlighted. These are women who risk their lives to report on governments and communities, including here in the U.S.

This year’s recipients of the IWMF Courage Awards include the all-women Dalit reporting and editing staff of the Indian news outlet Khabar Lahariya; Paola Ugaz, a Peruvian print and broadcast journalist; imprisoned Belarusian journalists Katsiaryna Andreyeva and Darya Chultsova, and U.S. photojournalist Vanessa Charlot. The awards are given to women on the frontline and Charlot has certainly been on the frontline covering politics and protests.

Charlot sat down with TheWrap CEO and WrapWomen founder Sharon Waxman.

The photographer, who has covered everything from the Black Lives Movement to various Trump rallies, talked about how her work has become more dangerous as the political and racial climates in the U.S. change.

“What happened last year specifically, was that journalists were scrutinized,” Charlot explained. “We were attacked in a way that was unprecedented in the United States. Especially being from a Black community and what was happening last year with a lot of the racial tensions, telling stories from the same community that is being targeted, my life personally was in danger.”

When Waxman asked Charlot to elaborate, she noted two instances when her life was potentially in danger.

“I remember covering a protest in Florissant, which is a city north of St. Louis. It’s right outside of Ferguson, Missouri, where Mike Brown was assassinated. There’s a lot of racial tension there and the Proud Boys come out,” Charlot said. “I remember standing in front of the police department and there was a huge truck driving toward the crowd and the police didn’t stop it.”

Another time she was taking photos in front of the St. Louis Art Museum. “Not only were the Proud Boys there but other white nationalist groups were there. And nothing was done to stop them. Nothing was done to separate the two groups. I knew this because I had a camera in my hand. And I could easily be targeted.”