Friday, September 09, 2005
FREEDOM OF PRESS
Reporters criticize media restrictions in New Orleans
When NBC anchor Brian Williams and his crew were trying to take pictures of a National Guard unit securing a Brooks Brothers shop in downtown New Orleans, a sergeant blocked the footage by ordering them to the other side of Canal Street. "I have searched my mind for some justification for why I can't be reporting in a calm and heavily defended American city and cannot find one," Williams said yesterday. "I don't like being told when I can and cannot walk on the streets and take pictures." But he grumbled and told his crew to stop shooting Wednesday, Williams said, because "authority in New Orleans is as good as the last person to make the rule. I didn't have time to take it up the chain." As rescue and recovery efforts continue in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, reporters and press analysts are growing increasingly critical of restrictions on media access. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, under heavy journalistic fire for its slow response to the disaster, has sparked new criticism by asking news organizations not to take pictures of bodies being recovered in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Source: Howard Kurtz, The Washington Post
Link: FEMA: Photo request "not a directive"; by Meghan Martin, Poynter Online
FREEDOM OF PRESS
Photographer roughed up by New Orleans police
A Toronto Star photographer was threatened, shoved and stripped of his cameras by New Orleans police while on assignment in the hurricane-ravaged city. Lucas Oleniuk found the entrance to New rleans barred by an armed roadblock when he and reporter Tim Harper arrived Sept. 1. Through mixing in with a supply convoy, they were able to enter the city. On his way to the French Quarter, Oleniuk noticed armed officers in front of an apartment building. "As soon as I got out, there were shots in the air," Oleniuk, 27, said from Baton Rouge. The area filled with New Orleans tactical teams who engaged in a gunfight with two men. Oleniuk, hiding behind a lamppost, moved to a safer location behind a cruiser and took pictures alongside the police. Meanwhile, Harper had shotguns pointed at him by officers and was commanded to back his car up. The suspects were eventually brought out of the building in handcuffs and bleeding profusely. They were punched and kicked numerous times by six or!
seven officers. Oleniuk said he was still photographing the scene when officers approached him, shoved him back and ripped two cameras and his press pass from around his neck. "I pleaded with them for the cameras," said Oleniuk, who said he asked numerous times only to be denied. Walking away one block, Oleniuk decided to ask one last time. An officer he had been working beside returned his cameras but without the memory cards containing 350 pictures. "When I asked for the pictures, one said, 'If you don't get your ass out of here, I'm going to break your motherf--ing jaw.' "
Source: Daniel Jungwirth, The Saskatoon Star Phoenix
Link: Police violence against journalists in New Orleans in Katrina aftermath; by Reporters Without Borders