Everything online journalists need to protect their legal rights. This free resource culls from all Reporters Committee resources and includes exclusive content on digital media law issues.
New York City police are facing tough criticism for their treatment of reporters covering Tuesday's overnight raid of the Zuccotti Park base of the Occupy Wall Street movement for what some journalists are calling and hashtagging a “media blackout.”
According to reports by the Associated Press, at least half a dozen journalists, including NYPD-credentialed reporters, were arrested in and around the early-morning eviction: an AP reporter, an AP photographer, a New York Daily News reporter, a freelancer for NPR, a blogger for at The New York Times’ Local East Village, a Vanity Fair correspondent, a news editor for DNAinfo.com and a number of freelancers.
Others reported that police pushed journalists back and even roughed them up to keep journalists from getting close to the raid on Zuccotti Park, where police arrested about 200 protestors under orders from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to clear the encampment for health and safety reasons.
The behavior of authorities toward the media set off a flurry of defense and condemnation as some press advocates questioned if the police were deliberately stifling coverage of the operation.
Here were some of the official reactions:
-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, quoted by the Associated Press
- International Union of Police Associations spokesperson Rich Roberts
-New York Press Club President Gabe Pressman, writing in a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly asking them to investigate the incidents and make assurances that "it won't happen again." Pressman, in his analysis of police action, said the eviction was the right decision, but the press was treated unfairly.
-Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer in a statement Tuesday.
-National Press Photographers Association Sean D. Elliot in a press release condemning the "targeting of journalists" at Occupy Wall Street.
‘We know that as protests escalate it may be difficult for police to distinguish bystanders from participants, but it is clear now that many journalists have been erroneously arrested without cause,’ SPJ President John Ensslin said. ‘These errors must be rectified immediately.’”
-The Society of Professional Journalists, in a press release condemning the arrests of journalists at Occupy protests
-Carlos Lauria, senior coordinator for the Americas, Committee to Protect Journalists
"Swooping in, deliberately when no one is around, and then depriving the news media of access to information is entirely unacceptable. . . . When police are engaging in behavior that they don’t want the public to know about, journalists are a prime target."
-New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman, quoted by DNAinfo.com
-The Associated Press in an email memo to staff. AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll has since clarified the memo, which her colleague Lou Ferrara reportedly sent, saying that the memo was sent to ensure the “safety and well being of our people” and that reporters should not be putting anything out before they have a clear understanding of what is going on, according to Poynter.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press also issued a statement about the detention of credentialed journalists at the protests, which can be read here.