Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Reporters Are Pushy - Get Over It

Reporters and photographers can be pushy, often obnoxious and frequently downright stupid. We know – half of this 15-Second enterprise was a reporter for 40 years – the other half had to deal with “those people” for nearly as long.

But officials need to accept that pushiness -- and with rare exception, go with the flow. When they don't, ugly scenes follow.

Below is an example of what not to do. Chicago police took into custody an NBC photographer and WGN reporter for trying to cover a story about a six-year-old girl who was shot and killed Saturday.

The media were not at the crime scene but rather at a hospital where the girl was taken. If the media were impeding medics or helping a criminal escape, the cops would have a beef.  They were not.

From the story and accompanying video -- it looks like Chicago's finest overreacted. One cop can be seen on tape saying:
"Your First Amendment rights can be terminated if you're creating a scene or whatever."
 Umm. No they can't

View more videos at: http://nbcchicago.com.

This nation is STILL a great democracy because there is an unfettered flow of information and ideas – both broadcast and print. At the core of that first amendment right is a journalist’s duty, and yes, responsibility to cover any event – lawfully – respecting the rights of others to privacy as they do so.  Handcuffing reporters -- just because you can -- is what happens in other countries -- not here.

The Chicago police demonstrated that they need a refresher course in dealing with the media. As in the past, that refresher course often comes in the form of a civil law suit – sometimes it’s the only way the Chicago PD learns.  The reporter and photographer were released after about ten minutes in custody -- but the impression of strong-armed tactics by the police will last much longer.

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