A crew from the BBC were confronted by rioters while trying to drive their van down London Road in Croydon, where a furniture store was earlier set ablaze and shops looted.
BBC producer Paraic O'Brien, who was driving the vehicle, told Journalism.co.uk that he had "never seen anything like it", describing the scenes in Croydon as "apocalyptic".
"There was all this debris on the road so we had to slow right down. I was driving and my cameraman was in the passenger seat, discreetly filming through a closed window, we had no lights in the car. In the back were two security guards and editing staff," he said.
"Then a crowd of kids gathered round the van and started shouting and chanting, and someone either hit the window with a metal bar or threw a brick through it.
"It was something of immense force, enough to dent the frame of the car, and the entire back window smashed in on the guys in the back. You get used to the usual abuse covering these things and you take it in your stride, but last night they were definitely targeting journalists."
ITN, the producer of ITV News, Channel 4 News and London Tonight, said that its broadcasting van was attacked in Tottenham earlier in the evening. Channel 4 News reporter Kris Jepson revealed on Twitter that camera equipment had been smashed during a scuffle with rioters.
Sky News reporter Mark Stone, who was off duty last night, left his home in Clapham Junction to cover the disturbance in the area using his iPhone.
At one stage, he asked a looter: "Are you proud of what you're doing?" A woman responded by saying that she was "just getting my taxes back". Stone was later chased away from the scene by rioters, but returned to report live from Clapham Junction using a Sky News satellite truck.
Sky News home news editor Mark Evans paid tribute to Stone's commitment and told The Guardian that all Sky's journalists had been given a security briefing this morning.
He said: "Mark's a very committed and brave young journalist. His use of kit shows how technically minded both he and Sky News are. We don't have the same kind of kit and resources that our competitors do and the use of iPhones and other tools allows us to be first."
CNN reporter Dan Rivers wore a helmet and what appeared to be body armour while he covered the rioting in Peckham. He was forced to retreat after objects were thrown at the police line.
However, the rolling news coverage proved a hit with viewers, delivering Sky News and the BBC News Channel their highest viewing figures for ten years.
Based on the number of viewers who tuned in for at least 15 minutes during the day, Sky News had a total reach of 6.81m yesterday, its highest audience since the Iraq War coverage in 2003.
The BBC News channel had a total reach of 8.8m, eclipsing its previous record of 8.5m on March 11 this year for coverage of the Japanese earthquake.
Also last night, the unrest across London enabled the BBC's flagship 10pm news bulletin to draw its biggest audience of the year, at 7.15m with a 32.6% share of the TV audience in its timeslot.
The BBC has so far received a total of 119 complaints about its coverage of the riots, with 70 accusing it of bias towards the police, 41 saying there was too much coverage and eight viewers upset at the BBC using the word "protestors" when it should have said criminals.
Social media services such as Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry Messenger have also come into the spotlight for the role they played during the disturbances.