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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Lara Logan Suspended from CBS News Over Botched “60 Minutes” Benghazi Report

logan.cbs.thismorning2Executive Director of Standards and Practices for CBS News, Al Ortiz, blasted Logan for “taking a public position on the government’s handling of Benghazi…while continuing to report the story,” in an internal memo leaked to The Huffington Post.

In October of 2012, one month before starting work on the Benghazi story, Logan made a speech in which she took a strong public position arguing that the US Government was misrepresenting the threat from Al Qaeda, and urging actions that the US should take in response to the Benghazi attack. From a CBS News Standards perspective, there is a conflict in taking a public position on the government’s handling of Benghazi and Al Qaeda, while continuing to report on the story.

— Al Ortiz, Executive Director of Standards and Practices for CBS News

Jeff Fager, Chairman of CBS News, suspended Logan and her producer on the mistaken Benghazi story, Max McClellan according to a separate memo, also obtained by the Post.

davies-embassyhouseThere is a lot to learn from this mistake for the entire organization. We have rebuilt CBS News in a way that has dramatically improved our reporting abilities. Ironically 60 Minutes, which has been a model for those changes, fell short by broadcasting a now discredited account of an important story, and did not take full advantage of the reporting abilities of CBS News that might have prevented it from happening.
As a result, I have asked Lara Logan, who has distinguished herself and has put herself in harm’s way many times in the course of covering stories for us, to take a leave of absence, which she has agreed to do. I have asked the same of producer Max McClellan, who also has a distinguished career at CBS News.

— Jeff Fager, Chairman of CBS News

On “Brain Drain” at The New York Times: Is The Gray Lady Still the Prettiest Girl at the Party?

  • the-new-york-timesDylan Byers, of Politico, labels recent departures from NYT “brain drain.”
  • Erik Wemple, of The Washington Post, shoots back, “What about Politico’s ‘brain drain’?”
  • Then Byers and Wemple have a Twitter battle over it.
  • During negotiations to keep “stats guru” Nate Silver, his agent commented that his client was “the prettiest girl at the party,” says Michael Calderone in the Huffington Post. Executive Editor Jill Abramson countered that The New York Times is always the prettiest girl at the party.
  • Marc Tracy, in The New Republic, tells media critics to “Stop Hyperventilating!” The Gray Lady is losing staff, but maintaining its “prestige.”

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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