Journalists Covering Protests Arrested, Assaulted in Ferguson

THE WASHINGTON POST’S WESLEY LOWERY AND THE HUFFINGTON POST’S RYAN J. REILLY WERE RELEASED WITHOUT CHARGES

After police killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown last weekend in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo. protests erupted, then violence broke out and looting ensued.

In the time since Brown’s death,  journalists have descended on the town to cover those events and protesters have continued to call for justice in the killing of the college-bound teen. Meanwhile, law enforcement has become increasingly hostile to the media and demonstrators alike.

IN A SEPARATE INCIDENT, POLICE FIRED TEAR GAS AND BEAN BAGS AT AN AL-JAZEERA AMERICA TELEVISION CREW

The most recent evidence of that hostility came Thursday with the arrest of two reporters at a Ferguson McDonald’s — near where Brown was shot and killed — and a video showing police in riot gear firing tear gas and rubber bullets at a television crew, then dismantling their equipment after they fled for safety.

In any free country the balance between providing police protection with integrity and over-zealous enforcement is delicate. It is one thing for officers to act when there is reasonable suspicion; it is quite another to abuse that discretion by chilling free speech and creating a climate of fear and distrust under the pretext of safety and security.”

Mickey H. Osterreicher, General Counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, from a letter to Chief Thomas Jackson Ferguson Police Department

Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery and Huffington Post reporter Ryan J. Reilly were both arrested at a McDonald’s near the scene of demonstrations as they tried to work and recharge their cell phones. Both media organizations condemned the arrests. And both reporters were interviewed on MSNBC on Thursday describing their violent removal by heavily armed police in riot gear.

He was illegally instructed to stop taking video of officers. Then he followed officers’ instructions to leave a McDonald’s — and after contradictory instructions on how to exit, he was slammed against a soda machine and then handcuffed. That behavior was wholly unwarranted and an assault on the freedom of the press to cover the news. The physical risk to Wesley himself is obvious and outrageous.”

— Martin BaronExecutive Editor of The Washington Post, from a statement about the arrest of reporter Wesley Lowery

Journalists have a constitutionally protected right to work without the government interference, We call on — and fully expect — the authorities to investigate what appears to be a violation of the First Amendment and to hold the officers involved to account, if necessary.”

Bob Butler, President of the National Association of Black Journalists, from a statement about the arrests of Lowery and Reilly

Lowery posted a video to Twitter showing an officer demanding that he leave the restaurant and ordering him to stop filming, prior to his arrest. Reilly posted photos of an officer he says assaulted him during the arrest — a law enforcement official Reilly also says ignored repeated requests to identify himself by name and badge number.

Compared to some others who have come into contact with the police department, they came out relatively unscathed, but that in no way excuses the false arrest or the militant aggression toward these journalists. Ryan, who has reported multiple times from Guantanamo Bay, said that the police resembled soldiers more than officers, and treated those inside the McDonald’s as ‘enemy combatants.’”

Ryan Grim, Huffington Post Washington D.C. Bureau Chief, from a statement about the arrests

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Conspiracy to commit journalism | Pressthink

Conversations at Stanley Park

Investigative journalism and the secret state are natural enemies. Even with an enlightened government and relatively untroubled times, their relationship will be uneasy at best.

Today, they’re in a state of undeclared war. Surveillance states and most of their fellow travellers are in too deep to pull back voluntarily. Some will be uneasy about how far things have gone but changing one’s mind is never a comfortable business, particularly if it has to be done in public.

Those opposed to overly intrusive and secret surveillance need to figure out the best ways to increase that uneasiness and offer palatable means for players to defect. The playing field needs to once again be tilted towards openness as the primary operating principle. To do that, unearthing secrets, valuable though it may be, is not enough.

It’s exactly these issues that Jay Rosen takes up in this recent piece at Pressthink.

A conspiracy…

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Journalism: You Know It When You See It

Media Politics in Perspective

By The Daily Take, The Thom Hartmann Program

Right now, Dianne Feinstein and other members of the U.S. Senate are trying to define the word press – the same press that is mentioned in the first line of the First Amendment to the Constitution. No matter how well intentioned their plan may be, it could backfire badly.

When news first broke back in May that the Justice Department had seized the phone records of Associated Pressreporters and tracked the movements ofFox News’ James Rosen, it was a great opportunity for Congress to pass the stronger protections for freedom of the press that liberty requires.

The public was outraged and big name Senators from both parties, including New York’s Chuck Schumer and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, proposed new laws to protect journalists from prosecution.

That bipartisan push for a media shield law has now hit a snag.

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Quality journalism requires a lot of reading – MISA

The following speech was made by Vuyisile Hlatshwayo, national director of Swaziland’s Media Institute of Southern Africa, at a conference on free speech in Pretoria on August 20 2013. The conference was organised by the African Union’s Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Media Institute of Southern Africa, and University of Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights. Hlatshwayo argues that good, informed journalism and editorial content requires reporters and editors to read as widely as possible.

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Journalists have been attending short, specialised courses in technical subjects locally, regionally and internationally for years. Not only that, some would have left university with minors in political science, development studies, sociology, psychology, and economics. The aim is to “equip students with knowledge and skills to be able to analyse, interpret and report on political and economic issues at national and international levels”. As long as they have passed the exams in the…

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Zim police hunting for two British journalists

Zimbabwe Election: Latest News & Voting Information

Police in Harare have launched a manhunt for British journalists Jerome Starkey and Jan Raath for spreading falsehoods that Zimbabwe signed a secret deal to export uranium to Iran for the manufacture of “a nuclear weapon”.

In a case likely to embarrass the British media, outgoing Mines and Mining Development Deputy Minister Mr Gift Chimanikire yesterday denied statements the journalists attributed to him confirming the said deal.

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