Over the past hours, days, weeks and months, the power of visual journalism could not be more evident. Members of the News Photographers Association of Canada (NPAC) are strongly condemning and calling for criminal action in today’s assault of Canadian photojournalist Ben Nelms, who was on assignment covering a pro-Trump rally in Vancouver.
Nelms, a photographer and videographer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), was on assignment at the rally which occurred in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. The award-winning photojournalist, the current Canadian News Photographer of the Year, was punched in the face and assaulted in a completely unprovoked attack by a demonstrator. The attack occurred in front of the crowd.
“In an era where epithets like ‘fake news’ are undermining the integrity of journalists around the world, we are seeing real, tangible effects of a concerted effort to establish distrust between the public and the press corps,” says NPAC President Crystal Schick. “A free press is necessary for an informed public. Photojournalists, reporters and editors are committed to a code of ethics built on truth, accuracy, humanity and accountability. The assault on Mr. Nelms underscores the growing challenge our colleagues face in simply doing their jobs, and that’s not acceptable. The incident was captured by a number of media, including Mr. Nelms, and we urge the Vancouver Police Department to take immediate action to identify and charge this individual.”
Additional physical assaults on members of the working media also occurred in Washington, DC, undermining the important work those journalists and visual journalists were undertaking in the United States today.
“This is completely unacceptable,” says Schick. “We join our voice to professional organizations from across the United States in support of those journalists and their important work.”