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How a reporter covers a volatile story like May Day

Brandi Kruse calling in to the station during May Day protests 2013. (Twitter: Casey McNerthney)

For weeks, Seattle police told the media they were ready to handle any potential violence during Seattle’s May Day demonstrations.

They reported 17 arrests and eight officers injured in an hour or so of chaos downtown Wednesday night.

KIRO Radio’s Brandi Kruse was also prepared to deliver the story to our listeners.

The day started out peaceful for Kruse and fellow reporters in Seattle, but she knew the situation was getting tense the moment a woman pointed to her and said, ‘that’s that (insert vulgar word) who did that horrible story on us. Remember her face, that’s that woman who did that horrible story.'”

Kruse had recently attended an Anarchist meeting in Seattle and reported on the preparations those groups and police were making ahead of May 1.

It got worse later in the night when another protester got into her face, screaming and pointing his finger at her.

“It’s somebody who at every step of the way during Occupy and these various events made a point to call me out and say ‘I don’t agree with your coverage, but in a very aggressive way,'” Kruse told the Luke Burbank Show.

Kruse wasn’t the only one in the media targeted. KIRO TV reports protesters hit one of their photographers and ‘Silly Stringed’ a reporter.

While the situation grew tense just before 8:00 p.m, Kruse said she wasn’t scared enough to stay safe in her news car.

“There were dozens and dozens of police officers around and if something would have happened, it wouldn’t take long for police to get there,” said Kruse.

However, Kruse said she was smart about how she followed the protesters, not getting too close and reporting from the sidelines. She learned her lesson during the Occupy Port of Seattle protest in Dec. 2011.

There was a moment Wednesday night that Kruse wondered if the media coverage was making the situation worse.

“You’d see the slightest little thing that would happen and 15 photographers would close in and this protester would be surrounded by the media, instead of police,” said Kruse. “Are they throwing that bar at that police cruiser because they know they’re going to get their 15 minutes of fame on TV?”

While it may be true, Kruse understands it’s all a balancing act for reporters trying to convey a story, stay out of the way of police, and not fuel the fire.

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