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First Amendment

Local Reporter and Photographer Detained by Chicago PD: ‘Your First Amendment Rights Have Limitations’

Chicago police took WGN reporter Dan Ponce and WMAQ photographer Donte Williams into custody on Saturday, saying the two were “creating a scene” outside of Mt. Sinai Hospital.

Ponce and Williams, who were part of a media contingent covering the fatal shooting of a six-year-old girl, were handcuffed by an officer after they refused to move farther away from the hospital (video above). “You first amendment rights can be terminated if you create a scene,” the officer told them. “Your first amendment rights have limitations.” Read more

NYC Stations Among Media Coalition Protesting NYPD’s Treatment of Reporters

A coalition of media organizations — including WABC, WNBC and WCBS — sent a letter yesterday to the New York Police Department protesting recent media access issues and police handling of reporters.

In November, the New York Press Club sent a letter to city officials protesting treatment of journalists during the Occupy Wall Street raid. In response, police commissioner Ray Kelly told officers that they could be disciplined for disrupting media access, according to the Washington Post. But journalists in New York City say that there continues to be interference while they work.

“A number of press entities feel that more needs to be done if we are to resolve these issues in an amicable manner,” the media letter said, according to the Post. Read more

In New York, Debate Over Reporters’ Rights At Occupy Protests Continues

On the heels of last week’s media blackout in Zuccotti Park, the New York Observer has a round-up of the continuing debate about the rights of reporters covering the Occupy movement. The Observer points to an interview deputy commissioner of public information Paul Browne gave to NPR on Friday:

He went on to explain that no reporters were arrested at Zuccotti Park during the raid, where reporters cooperated and were held two blocks back. As for the arrests of reporters made later that day elsewhere in lower Manhattan, they might not have happened with more oversight.

“Had we had somebody there, DCPI would probably try to accommodate a reporter getting caught up in a situation with a group pushing through police lines,” he explained. He added that the five reporters had their arrests voided.

Mr. Browne made no defense for keeping media out of the Zuccotti raid altogether, explaining that a press pass does not mean the automatic right to cross police lines. Read more

Idaho Stations Fight for More Access to Execution

News stations in Idaho have joined with several other media outlets in the state to challenge the proposed schedule of an execution set for Friday.

Paul Ezra Rhoades is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Friday morning and authorities have barred members of the media from viewing the first 25 minutes of the procedure.

The execution is the first to occur in Idaho in over 15 years and prison officials plan to begin the procedure in private before allowing witnesses into the execution chamber. Read more

NPPA Condemns NYPD’s Treatment of Journalists During Occupy Raid

The National Press Photographers Association says it “strongly condemns” the actions taken by the NYPD against journalists during Tuesday morning’s raid of Zuccotti Park.

In a press release sent out late Tuesday, the NPPA joined the New York Press Club in criticizing the aggressive maneuvers taken by police to limit journalists’ access to the area surrounding the park.

Condemning the NYPD’s “apparent targeting of journalists for detention and arrest,” the NPPA called the action “just another in the growing list of incidents across the country where visual journalists have been harassed, interfered with and arrested as they attempt to cover maters of public concern.” Read more

NY Press Club Calls For Investigation Into NYPD’s Treatment of Journalists During Zuccotti Park Raid

The New York Press Club Foundation is calling for an investigation into the reported police aggression against journalists covering the NYPD’s early morning raid of Zuccotti Park.

“As police officers acted to remove Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park, several reporters protested that they were the victims of harassment and that their rights under the First Amendment were violated,” wrote Gabe Pressman, longtime WNBC reporter and president of the New York Press Club Foundation, in a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

“The actions of some police officers were not consistent with the long-established relationship between the NYPD and the press,” Pressman added. Read more

VIDEO: WRC’s Pat Collins Wears Grape Costume to Interview Student Suspended For Banana Costume

One of the stories Washington, DC stations have been folllowing recently was the case of Bryan Thompson, a 14-year-old student at Colonial Forge High School who was suspended for running onto the field during a school football game — wearing a banana costume — earlier this month.

Thompson was interviewed by WRC reporter Pat Collins this week (watch the video, above). Thompson wore the infamous banana suit, and Collins, not to be outdone, dressed like a grape, in a not-so-subtle attempt to make the point that Thompson was doing nothing wrong. Read more

Jacksonville Police Remove Scanners From Local Newsrooms

In a move that had been anticipated for weeks but is no less debilitating, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office removed police scanners from local newsrooms last week.

In announcing their decision to remove the scanners back in July, the police department cited their own budgetary considerations.  But many feel that it was done in an effort to limit the media’s access to police communications.

For the past several years, Jacksonville media outlets have rented scanners from the police department.  According to The Florida Times-Union, local news agencies would rent the $4,600 Motorola radios, with special encrypted frequencies, for about $70 each per month. Read more

Springfield’s KYTV Hires Attorney in Effort to Keep Court Documents Open

KYTV, an NBC-affiliate in southwestern Missouri, has joined local newspaper The Springfield News-Leader in trying to keep a guardianship case open to the public.

The two media outlets have hired an attorney with extensive experience on First Amendment cases to argue that court documents should remain open in a case involving John Q. Hammons, an ailing local businessman whose friends are working to have a public official put in charge of his guardianship.

Hammons, 92, currently lives in a nursing home and eight of his friends have joined together to argue that Jacquie Dowdy, Hammons’s legal guardian and former business associate, is keeping him unnecessarily secluded.

Through his legal representative, Hammons asserts that he is concerned that a court case could violate his right to privacy. Read more

Overcoming Court Injunction, WDAM Airs Controversial Video of Inmate Abuse

WDAM is now airing controversial surveillance video that shows inmate abuse at a juvenile detention center after winning its case in the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Earlier this week, the court threw out an injunction, filed by the Forrest County Youth Court, that had barred the Hattiesburg NBC-affiliate from airing video showing abuse at the Forrest County Juvenile Detention Center.

WDAM aired the graphic surveillance video on Thursday evening, with reporter Mike McDaniel, who has has been working on the story for several weeks, finally able to broadcast his full investigation. Video inside… Read more

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