Reuters is taking an unprecedented step to protect its reporters stationed in the U.S. this Election Day.
The news agency has more than 2,500 journalists stationed in 200 locations around the world, the U.K.'s Press Gazette reports. And with many of those reporters covering conflict zones, Reuters is no stranger to issuing protective gear and taking other measures to keep its employees safe.
But this year, "our concern about the safety of journalists in the U.S. is unprecedentedly high," Reuters' editor-in-chief Stephen Adler tells the Press Gazette. "My own observation, both here and around the world, is that wearing that big 'PRESS' on your chest is no longer as much of a protection as it might once have been," Adler went on. "Sometimes the press are targets, or sometimes just the fact that they're press is simply ignored." So Reuters is taking an admittedly "odd" step and distributing flak vests, helmets, and gas masks, as well as COVID-19 protective equipment, to reporters, Adler said.
The decision comes after reporters, including some for Reuters, were hit with rubber bullets and tear gas by law enforcement cracking down on nationwide protests over the summer. The Department of Homeland Security has already tasked some of its immigration enforcement agencies with protecting federal property in anticipation of possible protests following Tuesday's election.