Local news reporter Brianna Hamblin was having a normal day at work when a moment happened to be captured on camera that would propel her to the top of social media feeds around the world.
Hamblin, a morning reporter for Spectrum News in Rochester, New York, told TODAY she was set up to go live from a neighborhood in her station’s 6 a.m. newscast when a man approached her and began harassing her.
In the video, a man can be seen catcalling Hamblin, and then later telling her he “can’t be alone with a Black woman” in what he appears to think is a compliment.
Hamblin tweeted her thoughts after the incident, writing that the “audacity of the things men say to me never ceases to amaze me. What makes you think women want to be talked to that way? In no way is this endearing. It’s uncomfortable. It’s gross.
“Being a Black woman in this industry has its own headaches, but talking down on one group of women to 'praise' another group is NEVER okay,” she continued. “It just shows you have a disgusting fetish based on stereotypes, which is just as racist.”
In an interview with TODAY, Hamblin said she shared the video because she hoped to show people what female reporters have to deal with regularly out in the field.
"And just as a woman in general,” she added. “There were so many men that were shocked by (the video). … There was a lot of comments saying like, ‘I can't believe this is still happening 2021.’”
Those reactions showed her that we need to continue to have conversations about sexual harassment.
“It is sometimes a wake-up call to people who aren't ... experiencing it,” she said. “I was not expecting it to be as widespread as it has been."
Hamblin said she’s since heard from people all over the world, from Spain to Australia to South Africa.
“You can see how many women are relating to this, because every woman has gone through this,” she said. “My heart goes out to the women who could see themselves in that situation that I had went through because they've been through it before and then my message to men who were apologizing to me was just … that men need to hold other men accountable.”
Many local stations often send young reporters out alone to shoot, write and edit their own stories — a practice that has become even more common in smaller TV markets as the business sees shrinking profit margins.
Hamblin, however, was thankful to have a station videographer with her at the scene.
“And I think there's also discussion that the industry needs to (have) … about reporters safety being alone out in the field because you really never know … what you're gonna get in the field.”
Her station told TODAY they were proud of how Hamblin handled herself.
“We are glad that Brianna wasn’t alone in the face of such adversity and we’ve never been more proud of her,” a spokesperson for Spectrum News said in a statement. “She handled the situation impeccably, remaining calm and professional throughout. We want our employees to feel safe and are constantly working toward achieving that goal.”
Hamblin, who has been a TV reporter since graduating from college in 2018, added that this wasn’t the first time something like this had happened to her while she was working.
“It just the first time I was able to capture it on camera, or that it was captured on camera,” she said. “But it happens pretty regularly, you know, as a reporter and a woman.”