The New York Press Club, Inc.
1324 Lexington Avenue (Box 190)
New York NY 10128-1145
mailbox@nypressclub.org

OFFICERS

President
Larry Seary
Send email to Larry
1st Vice President
Steve Scott
WCBS Newsradio 880
2nd Vice President
Jane Tillman Irving
WCBS Newsradio 880
Treasurer
Joe Connolly
The Wall Street Journal
Secretary
Stephani Shelton
The Fred Group
Corresponding Secretary
Elizabeth Semrai
HarperCollins
Financial Secretary
Beth Karas
Freelance

GOVERNORS

Winnie Hu
The New York Times
Rich Lamb
WCBS Newsradio 880
Mitch Lebe
27/7 News Source
Phil O'Brien
Buzz60.com
Gabe Pressman
WNBC
Larry Sutton
OK! Magazine
Debra Toppeta
WomanAroundTown.com

TRUSTEES

Mark Lieberman
Past President
John Mulligan
Past President
Tom Poster
Past President
Jerry Schmetterer
Past President
Deborah Wetzel
Past President
Consulting Director
Peter O.E. Bekker
Events Chairman
Mitch Lebe
Public Relations
Debra J. Caruso
Photographer
Jack Dobosh
Counsel
Farrell Farrell Burke
Clergy
Fr. Matthew F. Malone, S.J.
Rabbi Joseph Potasnik

Coalition For the First Amendment

  • Overview
  • Members of the Coalition

logo The Coalition for the First Amendment consists of 13 membership organizations representing working journalists, primarily in New York City. It was established in late November, 2011, in response to the alarming suppression, abuse and arrests of reporters covering NYPD's eviction of "Occupy Wall Street" protesters from Zuccotti Park on November 15th. Details of the police actions to suppress and deter coverage are contained in numerous accounts, below. So are communications between press organizations and Bloomberg administration officials condemning the police actions and demanding that they cease.

In its call to other press groups to form the Coalition, the New York Press Club declared its intention to monitor police-press relations as a way of spotlighting police activities that threaten constitutional protections, which is the purpose of this page.
CLICK TO REPORT AN INCIDENT

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ASSAULT ON THE FIRST AMENDMENT

Click to read the Press Club's 5/20/2013 letter of protest to AG Eric Holder
Text of the letter sent by the New York Press Club to the U.S. Attorney General regarding the Justice Department's significant breach of First Amendment press protections through its clandestine appropriation of the telephone records of Associated Press reporters in at least three AP bureaus.

May 20, 2013

Eric Holder, Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington D.C. 20530
via fax: (202) 307-6777

Dear Mr. Holder:

The New York Press Club strongly protests the Department of Justice's "dragnet" of telephone records of editors and reporters of The Associated Press. We see this broad use of subpoena powers as overreaching, and in violation of your own office’s guidelines. (28 C.F.R. Sect. 50.10) These guidelines were enacted during the Watergate era and were expanded in 1980 to cover telephone records.

The wide scope of the subpoenas calls into question the administration's ability to balance the DOJ's police powers with our constitutional rights. The actions of your office demonstrate that a strong federal shield law, yet to be enacted, is necessary to protect reporters from such actions, in a court of law, to ensure a fair weighing of the issues.

The DOJ's secret subpoenas appear to ignore the Attorney General's Guidelines, such as:

Narrow scope of the subpoena: Section 50.10 requires that a subpoena be as narrow as possible, with limited subject matter. However, the subpoena of The Associated Press's telephone records appeared to cover all records that could be relevant - in a fishing expedition through two months of newsgathering - in an effort to find information which might be of interest.

Obligation to inform and negotiate: Section 50.10 requires DOJ's prosecutors to state their intent and to negotiate with the news media in all cases involving telephone records. The DOJ apparently did not do so with The Associated Press.

Seeking information from alternative sources: The guidelines require that the DOJ take "all reasonable alternative investigative steps" before obtaining telephone records. The actions by your department suggest that the subpoena was an initial step in an effort to gather whatever information may be available.

Attorney General approval: the section also requires "the express authorization of the Attorney General" before any subpoena is sought to obtain information about the news media. Approval may not have been sought, or, if your approval was given, it should not have been under the terms of the citations, above.

Balancing of interests (Section 50.10(a): The guidelines are meant to ensure that the DOJ conform its behavior so that "the approach in every case must be to strike the proper balance between the public's interest in the free dissemination of ideas and information and the public's interest in effective law enforcement and the fair administration of justice."

The subpoena seeking phone records of Associated Press personnel was overly broad, gathering journalists' information as a first resort, not a last one. There was no negotiation with The Associated Press in an open and transparent manner and there was certainly no clear disclosure. The Associated Press held the story for five days, at the request of the administration and released it only when it was apparent that the administration was going to do the same, for its own public relations purposes.

The actions of the DOJ create the impression of an effort to frighten and intimidate potential confidential contacts which are vital to coverage of government. When government is the sole source of information, it is totalitarian. The First Amendment forbids such government infringements expressly to preserve Democracy. Using the phrase "national security" as a basis for obtaining the subpoenas against Associated Press personnel was, in our opinion, a disingenuous and unlawful act that weakens not only First Amendment protections but, ironically, the government’s own war on terror.

We ask that any and all telephone records of The Associated Press be returned, including the home and cell phone records of the journalists targeted by the DOJ, and that your office also disclose an accounting of any other news organizations that have been targeted by the Department of Justice.

The New York Press Club, serving the needs of New York's journalists since 1948, awaits your prompt response.

Sincerely,

Larry Seary
President, The New York Press Club

Communications With NYPD Regarding Press Relations

12/09/2013 - Letter to NYPD re Access Restrictions at Precincts
logo December 9, 2013
Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly
New York City Police Department
One Police Plaza
New York, NY 10038

Dear Commissioner Kelly:

On behalf of the New York Press Club, I strongly protest NYPD's latest decision to cut-off a long-standing source of information, vital to New Yorkers.

The policy change to deny media access to complaint reports at the precinct level is, to us, another example of blatant hostility by NYPD toward locally-based media outlets that disseminate information about neighborhood occurrences to residents of those neighborhoods. We are stumped by the question of why NYPD now requires community reporters to scurry down to the notoriously uncommunicative and uncooperative DCPI office to examine incident reports that originate locally.

One inescapable conclusion about the new policy is that NYPD wishes to “edit” or otherwise obfuscate the information in question. At the very least, the policy unnecessarily complicates public access to information and data that should instead be freely available.

This new restriction on openness and accessibility is, in our opinion, another disturbing example of the department's recent, relentless slide towards non-accountability. We therefore request restoration of the previous, long-standing policy and its expansion to all precincts. We also request, for publication, an explanation of the reasoning behind NYPD's latest decision to constrict access.

Thank you,

Sincerely,
Larry Seary, President

CC: Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Mayor-elect William de Blasio, William J. Bratton, John McCarthy, Donna Lieberman, Esq.
10/01/2012 - NYPD Again Reminded About Police Press-Issues
The New York Press Club is among 14 signers of a letter to NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly reminding him of recent incidents in which members of the press have been arrested and otherwise obstructed.

The letter chronicles several recent cases of inappropriate and possibly unlawful police actions against working journalists and concludes with the reprise of an offer to assist NYPD with training.

Read the letter
08/06/2012 - NPPA Calls For Investigation of Stolarik Arrest
Freelance photographer Robert Stolarik was reportedly roughed-up and injured in the Bronx on Saturday, August 4, 2012, by members of the New York City Police Department while shooting the arrest of a teeneger.

Stolarik says he was unlawfully ordered to stop photographing police activity and when he did not, an officer grabbed his camera and slammed it into his face. Stolarik, on assignment for the New York Times, says he was dragged to the ground and kicked by police after asking for badge numbers, suffering scrapes and bruises to his arms, legs and face.

The incident prompted an immediate protest from The National Press Photographers Association and a call for an investigation.
08/06/2012 - NY Press Club Backs NPPA Call for Investigation of Stolarik Arrest
logo The New York Press Club fully supports the National Press Photographers Association’s call for a full and impartial investigation of the events that led to Robert Stolarik’s arrest on August 4th while performing his job as a news photographer. The Press Club believes it is unlikely that Mr. Stolarik, a well-known and highly experienced news shooter on assignment for the New York Times, went to that assignment in order to obstruct government administration as charged by NYPD. What is more likely – and what has been the case on numerous occasions in the recent past - is Mr. Stolarik’s version of events: his presence was in some way annoying to police who unlawfully ordered him to cease taking pictures. When he refused to comply he was assaulted by officers who refused to identify themselves. He was then arrested on baseless, “catch-all” charges and taken away.

There are allegations of excessive force used by NYPD in arresting Mr. Stolarik. His photo equipment was confiscated and reportedly damaged. We agree 100% with the NPPA that the seizure “not only violates [Mr. Stolarik’s] First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights but may be considered a form of prior restraint and a violation of the Privacy Protection Act of 1980, specifically enacted to protect against the search and seizure of a journalist’s work product.” It should go without saying – but we’ll say it anyway – that Mr. Stolarik’s equipment should immediately be returned to him and restitution made for any damage.

Commissioner Raymond Kelly is on record as being in full support of an unfettered press and has communicated to his department the requirement that the press be allowed to do its job without unlawful interference. Officers who disregard the commissioner’s order are disregarding department policy, a mindset that is unacceptable in a peace keeping force and dangerous to all New Yorkers.

06/08/2012 - Press Groups Object to DCPI "total myth" Remark re Arrests
Remarks made by Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Paul Browne during a Queens Chronicle interview with his boss, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, have prompted an incredulous response from organizations representing press and reporters.

When discussing the day last November that Zuccotti Park was cleared of occupying OWS protestors, DCPI Browne remarked that "only one journalist was arrested during the operation, despite stories to the contrary, which he called 'a total myth.'" Mr. Browne added that "Occupy Wall Street protesters were forging press credentials in an effort to get through the police lines but that doesn't mean actual reporters were arrested."

In a response sent as an email to DCPI Browne, general counsel Mickey Osterreicher of the National Press Photographers Association said "many of those arrested have read your comments and find nothing 'mythical' about what happened to them."

Read the response.
02/02/2012 - NYPD Responds to Press Groups' Letter, Citing Steps Taken
In a same-day response to a letter received from 13 press and media organizations requesting follow-up on issues of police interference with working journalists, Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne provided indications that work is being done to address the problems.
02/01/2012 - Press Groups Write Again to Urge Follow-up From NYPD
Press and media groups in New York City have again written to Deputy NYPD Commissioner, Paul Browne, urging a more complete response and documentation of promised improvements following numerous incidents of abuse and suppression of working journalists by members of NYPD.
11/23/2011 - Commissioner Kelly Orders "non-interference" with Press
logo Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has responded affirmatively to demands for an end to the use of suppressive tactics against working journalists such as were used November 15th against reporters trying to cover the purge from Zuccotti Park of "Occupy Wall Street" protesters.

Police kept reporters far away from the park during the rout. Some reporters were roughed up by police and more than 20 were arrested.

Later that day, in an open letter to Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly, the New York Press Club condemned NYPD's actions, called for an investigation into the abuses and soon after, invited other press groups to form a coalition to monitor NYPD actions.

Prominent publishers and broadcasters also sent a letter to Commissioner Kelly's public information deputy, Paul Browne, detailing several of the assaults and requesting a meeting to discuss the situation.

Following that meeting, Commissioner Kelly distributed an internal message that was read to officers in every precincnt city-wide, ordering them not to unreasonably interfere with media access during news coverage and warning that disciplinary action is possibile if the order is ignored.

The commissioner's letter makes clear that officers have a duty to provide access and information about ongoing investigations at emergency scenes to the extent they can.

"Supervisors may restrict access to an incident scene only in those exceptional circumstances where it is absolutely necessary for law enforcement or public order purposes," Kelly's message says.
11/23/2011 - Text of Commissioner Kelly's "non-interference" order
The purpose of the FINEST message is to remind members of the service of their obligations to cooperate with media representatives acting in a news-gathering capacity at the scene of police incidents.

The public's access to information regarding the official business of the Department is of critical importance to effective City government. Because the public receives much of this access through the news media, members of the service must ensure that Department procedures which provide for cooperation and assistance with press personnel and which allow press personnel to access the scenes of incidents are carefully followed. Supervisors may restrict access to an incident scene only in those exceptional circumstances where it is absolutely necessary for law enforcement or public order purposes.

Policing incidents from crime scenes to major public events places a great burden on both line and supervisory personnel. Members of the service must respect, however, the public’s right to know about these events and the media’s right of access to report on these events. Members of the service who unreasonably interfere with media access to incidents or who intentionally prevent or obstruct the photographing or videotaping of news in public places will be subject to disciplinary action.

Patrol Guide Section 212-49 (Incidents Involving Media Representatives) and Patrol Guide Section 212-77 (Release of Information to News Media) reflect the commitment of the Department to upholding the principles of a free press and informed citizenry.

Listed below are some of the key provisions of those Patrol Guide provisions:

Patrol Guide Section 212-77: It is the policy of this Department to keep the community informed on matters of public interest. Most media inquiries are directed to the Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Public Information. However, at the scene of a breaking news story, the media may request information from members of the service present at the scene. Information, assistance or access should be rendered to whatever extent possible, in accordance with the following procedure, when it does not:

a. Pose an undue risk to the personal safety of members of the service, media representatives, or others.
b. Interfere with police operations
c. Adversely affect the rights of an accused or the investigation or prosecution of a crime.

Patrol Guide Section 212-49 Members of the service will not interfere with the videotaping or the photographing of incidents in public places. Intentional interference such as blocking or obstructing cameras or harassing the photographer constitutes censorship. Working Press Cards clearly state the bearer “is entitled to cross police and fire lines.” This right will be honored and access will not be denied. However, this does not include access to interior crime scenes or areas frozen for security reasons.

1. In order to cooperate more fully with members of the news media and provide them with access to cover newsworthy events, the following guidelines will be adhered to unless safety interests or proper performance of police duties require otherwise:
a. To the extent it is feasible to do so, the media’s access to demonstrations on private property will not be impeded by the Department.
b. The media will be given access as close to the activity as possible, with a clear line of sight and within hearing range of the incident.
c. When incidents spill over or occur on private property, members of the media will not be arrested for criminal trespass, unless an owner or representative expressly indicates that the press is not to be permitted to enter or remain on the property.
d. If the ranking officer at the incident determines that press access must be restricted in certain circumstances (i.e., in order for the Department to carry out its law enforcement functions), he retains the discretion to do so.
Members of the service are also reminded the Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Public Information, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for consultation and/or response to incidents involving the media. Members of the service are required to immediately notify the Deputy Commissioner, Public Information, of any incident involving the media, regardless of the outcome of that incident.
11/21/2011 - Coalition Formed to Monitor Police/Press Relations in NYC
logo There has been no public comment from the mayor or police commissioner about the suppression of press coverage and abuse of working journalists during last Tuesday's eviction from Zuccotti Park of "Occupy Wall Street" protesters despite calls from press organizations in the City for an official investigation and accounting of why and how the acts of blatant censorship were allowed to occur.

Organizations representing journalists in New York City have announced the formation of the Coalition for the First Amendment to monitor relations between the NYPD and the press.

In a joint statement, the groups declared:

“When New York City police evicted "Occupy Wall Street" protesters from Zuccotti Park in the early hours of Tuesday, November 15th, more than 20 journalists were arrested and several were injured. In what appeared to be a planned maneuver, police officers forced reporters and photographers so far away from Zuccotti Park that they could not see what was happening. They roughed up people who were trying to fulfill their duty to report the news.

“We have formed this coalition to monitor police actions. What the police did on November 15th to suppress coverage of their activities was intolerable. We are determined to use any means needed to fight such censorship in the future. In the city in which John Peter Zenger fought for and helped establish freedom of the press, we can do no less.”

Organizations that have joined the Coalition for the First Amendment include:

Deadline Club & Foundation
New York City Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists
National Press Photographers Association
Newspaper Guild of New York
News Media Guild
New York Press Club & Foundation
Newswomen's Club of New York
New York Press Photographers Association
Reporters Without Borders
The Society of Silurians
11/21/2011 - Publishers, Broadcasters & Press Groups' Letter to DCPI Browne
On November 21, 2011, George Freeman, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel for the New York Times Company sent a letter of complaint about police actions against working journalists during the Zuccotti Park purge to Paul Browne, NYPD's Deputy Commissioner of Public Information. The letter was co-signed by representatives of 12 other publishing and broadcasting companies and membership organizations representing journalists.
11/21/2011 - NY Civil Liberties Union Letter to the Mayor and Commissioner
On November 21, 2011, the executive leadership of the New York Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to Mayor Bloomberg and NYPC Commissioner Kelly slugged, "NYPD Mistreatment of journalists".
11/15/2011 - Open Letter to Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly
logo With regard to the arrest of journalists at Occupy Wall Street protests today, Gabe Pressman, president of the New York Press Club Foundation, sent the following letter to Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly, co-signed by Glenn Schuck, president of the New York Press Club:

Dear Mr. Mayor and Police Commissioner Kelly:

On Tuesday morning, November 15th, 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.

A few were arrested or detained.

The actions of some police officers were not consistent with the long-established relationship between the NYPD and the press.

The brash manner in which officers ordered reporters off the streets and then made them back off until the actions of the police were almost invisible is outrageous.

We want the department to investigate the incidents involved in this crackdown on Zuccotti Park and we want assurances it won't happen again.

Sincerely,

Gabe Pressman
President, New York Press Club Foundation
Chairman, Freedom of the Press Committee

Glenn Schuck
President, The New York Press Club

Local Reports & Commentary

12/10/2013 - NYPD Clarifies Access Restrictions at Precincts
GRAPHIC Precinct commanders city-wide were recently instructed by HQ not to discuss neighborhood crime information with the press but instead to direct inquiring reporters to the press office (DCPI) at police headquarters to obtain precinct-based crime reports and other local data.

What appeared to be a restrictive new policy was first reported by the Brooklyn hyperlocal, The Nabe, a website supported by the CUNY Journalism School whose founding dean, Stephen Shepard, immediately registered a protest with NYPD brass.

Dean Shepard was joined by the New York Press Club which sent a letter of protest to Commissioner Kelly.

In a conversation with NYPC president, Larry Seary, Deputy Commissioner For Public Information, John McCarthy, said reporters are still able to obtain precinct data from local "houses." A caveat is that reporters must first inform DCPI, presumeably by phone or email, that they will be visiting. DCPI will then inform the precinct that a journalist is on the way.

Mr. McCarthy said the forgoing procedure - notifying DCPI prior to a precinct visit - is not new and has been NYPD policy for "decades." He said that the recent communique to commanders was intended to be a reiteration of existing policy, not a change. However, that contention left unanswered the question of why the reiteration stipulated that reporters must deal only with DCPI.

In his report on the initial development, released almost contemporaneously with the story by The Nabe, veteran police reporter Murray Weiss of DNAinfo.com New York, outlined some of the problems journalists have encountered when seeking information from or otherwise dealing with DCPI.

The deputy commissioner told the Press Club that there will be no delay in access to the precinct data once a reporter contacts his office. NYPD reiterated the policy, he said, because of concern about lax procedures at the local level. DCPI, he said, wanted to assure that no confidential personal information is inadvertently released, such as abused childrens' identities, names of arrested minors, victims under 16, names of witnesses and other such privacy breaches.

While the protests from Dean Shepard and the New York Press Club have resulted in an explanation from NYPD, the Press Club would like to hear from working journalists about how the "reiterated" policy is affecting their access and workflow.
12/06/2013 - NYPD Orders Precincts to Deny Journalists Access to Crime Reports
The NYPD has ordered the city's 77 police precincts to stop giving out any information to the media about crimes taking place in their neighborhoods, cutting off a long-standing source of information for New Yorkers. (DNAinfo.com New York)
12/06/2013 - NYPD Restricts Access to Precinct Crime Reports
The Nabe will no longer be able to provide weekly 88th Precinct crime blotters after this week. (The Nabe)
08/26/2013 - Officer Is Indicted on Charges of Lying About Photog’s Arrest
A New York City police officer who had arrested a photographer working for The New York Times has been indicted on three felony counts and five misdemeanors accusing him of fabricating the reasons for the arrest (New York Times)
08/06/2012 - NYPD Said to Assault, Arrest Freelance Photographer in Bronx
A freelance photographer for The New York Times was arrested on Saturday night, August 4, 2012, while on assignment with two reporters who were conducting street interviews in the Bronx. (New York Times)
07/25/2012 - NYPD OWS Abuses Documented in Lawyers' Group Report
A group of lawyers has issued a lengthy report documenting misconduct during Occupy Wall Street protests by New York police officers who obstructed news reporters and legal observers, conducted frequent surveillance, wrongly limited public gatherings and enforced arbitrary rules. (New York Times)
05/14/2012 - DOJ Defends Public 'Right to Record' Police Activity
In a letter to attorneys for the Baltimore Police Department, the Justice Department strongly asserted that police officers who seize and destroy recordings without a warrant or without due process are in strict violation of Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The letter was sent to the police department as it prepares for meetings to discuss a settlement over a civil lawsuit brought by a citizen who sued the department after his camera was seized by police. (Arstechnica)
04/11/2012 - Suffolk County Sued for First Amendment Obstruction
A federal civil rights lawsuit has been filed challenging Suffolk County's policy and practice of obstructing the First Amendment right of the press and the public to record and gather news about police activity in public places. The suit was filed on behalf of professional video journalist Philip Datz, who was unlawfully arrested and detained by Suffolk County police in July 2011 while filming police activity on a public street in Bohemia. The suit contends that Mr. Datz's arrest was not an isolated event and that Suffolk County police officers have a pattern of unlawfully interfering with the recording of police activity conducted in plain view. (National Press Photographers Association)
03/19/2012 - Chicago PD: "Your First Amendment Rights Can be Terminated!"
In a statement wildly at odds with videotape of the event, the Chicago Police Department claims two press photographers were arrested on a public thoroughfare because they attempted to trespass by entering a Chicago hospital. The statement seems completely at odds with video of the incident that shows both arrests taking place outside, well away from the medical facility. (mediabistro/NBC)
03/07/2012 - NYPD Officer Strikes Lens of Credentialed Fotog
Video shows an officer hitting a credentialed photographer's lens and saying repeatedly, "My personal space, sir" during an early March demonstration by Occupy Wall Street at a Bank of America facility. (Gothamist)
02/28/2012 - How to Chill the Independent Journalist
(Note: See items from 12/10 and 12/4 for additional background) In an article subtitled, "Facing arrest without institutional backup," Carla Murphy examines the chilling effect on working journalists who do not have corporate lawyers or other legal backup when push comes to shove at police lines. (Columbia Journalism Review)
01/30/2012 - Photog Reportedly Blocked by NYPD During Occupy Arrests Protest
"A few moments later, on Park Avenue, a man wearing dark clothes and wearing no visible badge grabbed a woman by the arm and threw her to the ground. Uniformed officers arrested her and a second woman as other officers blocked the lens of a newspaper photographer attempting to document the arrests." (New York Times)
01/02/2012 - Rules Are Clear But Police Keep Pushing
Reporting and policing can be high-adrenaline jobs. But the decade-long trajectory in New York is toward expanded police power. Officers routinely infiltrate groups engaged in lawful dissent, spy on churches and mosques, and often toss demonstrators and reporters around with impunity. (New York Times)
12/21/2011 - NYPD Stepping Up Media Training For Officers?
The New York Police Department has "stepped up" its media training in the past month since news outlets complained of "abuses" by officers assigned to the scenes of protests, according to a department press officer. (Capital NY)
12/19/2011 - NYPD Continues Rampage On Activists, Journalists, Fellow Officers
"New York City police officers have apparently become so fed-up with Occupy Wall Street protesters that they are not only arresting activists, photographers and journalists as they have been doing. They are now attacking fellow cops." (Pixiq)
12/18/2011 - Reporters Threatened, Roughed-Up, Arrested at OWS Duarte
"The assembled press gaggle was having an almost equally rough night. Two photographers say that police threatened to take their official press passes away, a credentialed cameraman was hit over the head with a baton, and another photographer was arrested. " (Village Voice)
12/15/2011 - Gothamist Repeatedly Denied NYPD Press Credentials
The story (to date) of the struggle by Gothamist, one of New York City's oldest hyperlocal news and commentary sites, to obtain NYPD press credentials for several of its reporters. Bottom line: "If a relatively large site like Gothamist can't make it through the process after seven years, despite honest effort, the process is broken and needs to be fixed." (Gothamist)
12/12/2011 - Credentialed Fotog Blocked by NYPD While Shooting OWS Arrests
Credentialed New York Times freelance photographer Robert Stolarik was blocked while taking photos of the police descending on the Occupy Wall Street protesters at the World Financial Center plaza. (The New York Observer)
12/10/2011 - Arrested at Occupy Bronx for Writing About It
(See 12/04 Mott Haven Herald item "Cops Break Up Occupy Bronx Rally," below, for more information and a link to video of this incident). Carla Murphy, author of this piece in the Daily Beast, was trained at CUNY's graduate school of journalism and is a writer. She was arrested December 3rd in the Bronx while questioning NYPD officers and taking notes for a story about an Occupy the Bronx "General Assembly" meeting near a former community garden that had been bulldozed by the City. (Daily Beast)
12/09/2011 - Mayor Denies Blocking Reporters From Zuccotti Park
“We didn’t keep anybody from reporting, they just had to stand to the side while the police did their job,” Mayor Bloomberg said. “Police have to protect people.” (PolitickerNY)
12/08/2011 - Bloomberg Calls Nadler Probe Demand "Ridiculous"
The Mayor went on to suggest Congressman Nadler’s time and energy would be better served pursuing other endeavors. (PolitickerNY)
12/07/2011 - Bloomberg and Kelly Bust the Press
"[Michael Powell of the New York Times reminds us,] ...this NYPD hoodlum culture has been rife before Occupy Wall Street. At least since the Republican National Convention of 2004, our police have grown accustomed to forcibly pinning, arresting, and sometimes spraying and whacking protesters and reporters. (Emphasis added.)" (Village Voice)
12/06/2011 - Rep. Nadler Wants DOJ Probe of NYPD Actions vs OWS
The Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution (who represents Lower Manhattan), urged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to launch an investigation into numerous allegations of excessive force used by NYPD officers against OWS protesters and whether certain officers deprived protesters or members of the media of their civil liberties. (Office of Congressman Jerrold Nadler)
12/04/2011 - Cops Break Up Occupy Bronx Rally
Police arrested five people at the Occupy the Bronx general assembly in Mott Haven Saturday, preempting the organization’s plans to hold a rally and “festival” in a community garden fenced-off by the city in mid-November. (Mott Haven Herald)
12/01/2011 - Heightened Tension Nationwide
Heavy-handed tactics over the past couple months have increased tensions between the police and the press across the country, from New York City's "free speech zones" to "First Amendment areas" in Los Angeles. (Huffington Post)
11/30/2011 - Reporters Barred From OWS Protest at Obama Fundraiser
Reporters say NYPD officers turned them away from an Occupy Wall Street protest outside a Midtown fund-raiser for President Obama, despite orders last week from the commissioner reminding officers not to unreasonably interfere with working press. (Capital New York)
11/25/2011 - Police and Press
In many countries, using a camera or taking notes can get you into trouble. That is not supposed to happen in New York City. Yet as police cleared Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan on Nov. 15, a number of journalists were roughed up and arrested. (New York Times: Editorial)
11/24/2011 - NYPD Sgt. Confiscates Press Pass at Brooklyn Fire
In a story about the dramatic rescue by firefighters in Brooklyn of a young boy whose life signs had ceased, Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin also told the story of how a NYPD sergeant bullied and confiscated the press pass of a photojournalist working the scene. (New York Press Club)
11/22/2011 - Pressure Builds in Response to Journalist Arrests
"It’s vital that news organizations, unions, professional associations and press-freedom organizations speak out when these freedoms are attacked and work together to hold our leaders accountable." (SaveTheNews.org)
11/21/2011 - Who’s Responsible for Reporter’s Rights?
Since the surprise raid on Occupy Wall Street’s encampment in Zuccotti Park last Tuesday, Mayor Bloomberg’s office has been in full spin mode. First defending the actions of the New York Police Department, then minimizing the magnitude of Thursday’s demonstrations. (The New York Observer)
11/21/2011 - News Orgs Complain About Treatment During Protest
A cross-section of 13 news organizations in New York City lodged complaints on Monday about the New York Police Department’s treatment of journalists covering the Occupy Wall Street movement. (New York Times: Media Decoder)
11/21/2011 - Bloomberg, Kelly Finally Piss Off The Media
Most city reporters will tell you that the press pass actually confers less access than that of a regular person. Reporters are stuck in pens while regular folks move around at will. (Village Voice)
11/21/2011 - Reporters Meet the Fists of the Law
Over several days, New York cops have arrested, punched, whacked, shoved to the ground and tossed a barrier at reporters and photographers. (New York Times: Gotham)
11/21/2011 - Group To Monitor NYPD/Press Relations
The New York Press Club announced on their website this afternoon that they were forming “The Coalition for the First Amendment,” along with other local media groups in order to monitor relations between the NYPD and the press. (PolitickerNY)
11/18/2011 - Columbia J-School Faculty Protest OWS Abuses
"The threat to journalists of restraint and detention whilst reporting public interest stories in New York City is extremely troubling. Here is an open letter to Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly signed by an number of faculty at the Columbia Journalism School documenting our concerns. " (Columbia Graduate School of Journalism)
11/17/2011 - Targeting Media Who Cover OWS
In what appears to have been a premeditated and coordinated effort to block media coverage of the raid, many journalists said they were barred from reporting the police action. (The Nation)
11/17/2011 - PEN Deplores OWS Press Freedom Violations
“At a time when freedom of expression is under threat worldwide, this denial of media access and restriction on press coverage is shameful and undemocratic. It sends the wrong signal to the American people and to the rest of the world.” (PEN American Center)
11/17/2011 - Whose Police?
The Occupy movement has become a worldwide phenomenon, but it began in New York, and is deeply rooted here; and, sadly, the ham-fisted practice of responding to it with excesses of police force are now also identified with New York. (The New Yorker)
11/16/2011 - NY Press Club Demands Investigation Into Arrests
At least six journalists were arrested during the NYPD’s raid on Zuccotti Park in the wee hours of yesterday morning and the New York Press Club has contacted the mayor and police commissioner asking for an official investigation. (PolitickerNY)
11/15/2011 - Journalists detained at NYC Occupy protests
Journalists at the overnight raid of Occupy Wall Street's New York encampment were kept at a distance from covering it Tuesday, and several were arrested, handcuffed and hauled onto police buses along with hundreds of protesters. (Wall Street Journal)
11/15/2011 - Occupy Wall Street Media Blackout
Journalists Arrested, Roughed Up, Blocked From Covering Clearing (Huffington Post)

Nationwide

Compendium of Journalist Arrests Across the Country
Josh Stearns, Journalism and Public Media Campaign Director at Free Press, has been tracking reports of journalist arrests at Occupy protests all over the country since September, 2011. His compendium is updated regularly on Storify.

PRESS RIGHTS QUESTIONNAIRE FOR NYC MAYORAL CANDIDATES

Click to read the premise for the questionnaire sent to the mayoral candidates
Ascertaining Views of a Free Press
The New York Press Club has reached out to the announced mayoral candidates to hear their views on freedom of the press. In light of the Club's belief that First Amendment rights have been trampled on by the previous two mayoral administrations, Larry Seary, Club president, and the Club's Board of Directors, voted to poll the field so that Press Club members - and the public - can learn how the candidates view press rights. Results of the survey will be publicized.

The Club mailed a questionnaire to each candidate asking questions about suppression of news, creating an open dialogue on issues, allowing reporters to adequately cover crime scenes/events and whether NYPD is following its own guidelines in issuing credentials that allow members of the media to cross police lines, when necessary, to cover a story. Those receiving the survey were: Sal F. Albanese, Bill de Blasio, John Catsimatides, John Liu, Joe Lhota, Erick J. Salgado, George T. McDonald, Christine Quinn, William Thompson and Anthony Weiner.

"The past eight to 16 years have seen a degradation of the rights of those covering news for the public good in this city," said Seary. "There have been incidents where police officers have assaulted reporters. We've had reporters pushed farther and farther away from important events and we've endured an overall policy of keeping information out of the public arena. The situation at the NYPD, particularly, has sometimes been untenable."

Candidates' replies to the questionnaire, below.

QUESTIONNAIRE REPLIES FROM CANDIDATES

From: Bill de Blasio (D) NYC Public Advocate (received 5/8/2013)
Q1. Do you believe the press has a right to cover the news, and to have timely and unfettered access to documents and information that are rightly recognized to be public information? What would you do as Mayor to enforce those beliefs?

A1. Freedom of the press is one of the founding principles of our country. Our system of government cannot function without skeptical reporters asking probing questions, and photographers and video journalists having the access to capture images and bear witness to the work of democracy.

As Public Advocate, much of my work focuses on ensuring accountability and transparency throughout our city. When government agencies refused to respond to Freedom of Information Law requests, I joined reporters in their demands for accessible public documents. My office also recently issued a report card evaluating how City agencies respond to FOIL requests and gave a "F" to the NYPD, which has allowed nearly a third of FOIL requests to go unanswered. Like most New Yorkers, I believe our City thrives when the public is informed and aware of the inner-workings of our government.

I publicly stood up for the New York City press when it was under attack, with 26 journalists arrested during the eviction of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators. I wrote a column for the Huffington Post, criticizing the Bloomberg Administration and making clear my position on the importance of a free press with access to events.


Q2. Do you believe the NYPD is required to not only honor press rights, but to protect them as well? Or do you believe the NYPD should be exempt from those requirements?

A2. The NYPD should protect press rights. For a city to function effectively, our press must be allowed to cover news and events, except for the rare occasions when doing so could jeopardize public safety. All New Yorkers benefit from a vigilant and attentive press, just as we benefit from a vigilant and attentive police force.

Q3. Do you believe and support the proposition that the police do NOT have a right to arbitrarily or unreasonably interfere with the press as it tries to do its job? Do you believe that police officers that engage in such acts should be seriously sanctioned regardless of rank?

A3. Yes.

Q4. Would you pledge to direct your Police Commissioner to support the rights of the press to cover the news and to actively promote such a policy?

A4. Yes.

Q5. Over the last two administrations, the NYPD's Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Public Information (DCPI) has come to be seen by many reporters and photographers as the Office of No Information or Misinformation! It wasn't always that way. Would you require your Police Commissioner to restore respect for press rights at DCPI?

A5. Yes.

Q6. Despite grumbling about being responsible for issuing "press passes" (official credentials), the NYPD continues to perform that function. Those credentials state that the bearer is entitled to cross police lines wherever formed. Would you require the NYPD to rigorously follow its own stated policies and return to honoring press credentials and the privilege it bestows on news gatherers?

A6. Yes.

From: Sal Albanese (D) (received 6/10/2013)
Q1. Do you believe the press has a right to cover the news, and to have timely and unfettered access to documents and information that are rightly recognized to be public information? What would you do as Mayor to enforce those beliefs?

A1. Absolutely. As a lifelong political reformer and proud New Yorker, I have always believed that our city government could and should be far more transparent and democratic. From proposing City Council rules reforms to advancing the city's first campaign finance law, I've committed my career to those principles. As a candidate, I've encountered firsthand the unwillingness of some city agencies to respond to FOIL requests in a timely manner. As Mayor, I'll direct my agencies to not only share public information in a timely fashion, but to develop the digital platforms that make requesting and obtaining public information as user-friendly as possible.

Q2. Do you believe the NYPD is required to not only honor press rights, but to protect them as well? Or do you believe the NYPD should be exempt from those requirements?

A2. Yes. Under an Albanese administration, every city agency will be obligated to abide by the letter of the law, which includes respecting and protecting the rights of a free press.

Q3. Do you believe and support the proposition that the police do NOT have a right to arbitrarily or unreasonably interfere with the press as it tries to do its job? Do you believe that police officers that engage in such acts should be seriously sanctioned regardless of rank?

A3. Yes. Like all city agencies in an Albanese administration, the NYPD would be directed to abide by the law, which includes allowing the press to pursue a story to the extent permitted by the law.

Q4. Would you pledge to direct your Police Commissioner to support the rights of the press to cover the news and to actively promote such a policy?

A4. Yes, absolutely.

Q5. Over the last two administrations, the NYPD's Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Public Information (DCPI) has come to be seen by many reporters and photographers as the Office of No Information or Misinformation! It wasn't always that way. Would you require your Police Commissioner to restore respect for press rights at DCPI?

A5. Yes. The job of the DCPI is to deliver public information to the press and the public, not to restrict access. A free and democratic society is only as free as the press that informs it. So long as doing so does not pose an imminent threat to public safety, my DCPI will be committed to an open and honest relationship with the city's press corps.

Q6. Despite grumbling about being responsible for issuing "press passes" (official credentials), the NYPD continues to perform that function. Those credentials state that the bearer is entitled to cross police lines wherever formed. Would you require the NYPD to rigorously follow its own stated policies and return to honoring press credentials and the privilege it bestows on news gatherers?

A6. Yes. In an Albanese administration, the NYPD will not only respect credentialed press, but streamline the credentialing process to acknowledge the fragmentation and growing diversity of media.

From: John Catsimatidis (received 6/12/2013)
Q1. Do you believe the press has a right to cover the news, and to have timely and unfettered access to documents and information that are rightly recognized to be public information? What would you do as Mayor to enforce those beliefs?

A1. I do believe the press has a right to cover the news, and to have timely and unfettered access to documents and information that are rightly recognized to be "public information." I believe myself to be the most accessible candidate in this race to the press, and as Mayor will continue to be. My administration will be the most transparent in history and the press will have unfettered access, not only to public information, but to the Mayor and agencies.

Q2. Do you believe the NYPD is required to not only honor press rights, but to protect them as well? Or do you believe the NYPD should be exempt from those requirements?

A2. I do believe that the NYPD is required to not only honor press rights, but to protect them as well. The NYPD should only be exempt as required by any public safety concerns, such as threat of terror. The NYPD, in my administration, will strike the appropriate balance between press rights and public safety.

Q3. Do you believe and support the proposition that the police do NOT have a right to arbitrarily or unreasonably interfere with the press as it tries to do its job? Do you believe that police officers that engage in such acts should be seriously sanctioned regardless of rank?

A3. I do believe and support the proposition that the police do not have a right to arbitrarily or unreasonably interfere with the press as it tries to do its job. I believe that police officers of any rank, who unreasonably or arbitrarily interfere with the press as it tries to do its job should be sanctioned according to NYPD policies and procedures.

Q4. Would you pledge to direct your Police Commissioner to support the rights of the press to cover the news and to actively promote such a policy?

A4. I would pledge to direct my Police Commissioner to support the rights of the press to cover news, and actively promote such a policy. The press is entitled to information unless its release would cause danger to the public, such as instances regarding terrorism.

Q5. Over the last two administrations, the NYPD's Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Public Information (DCPI) has come to be seen by many reporters and photographers as the Office of No Information or Misinformation! It wasn't always that way. Would you require your Police Commissioner to restore respect for press rights at DCPI?

A5. The NYPD's Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Public Information in my administration will accord the same respect for press rights as I have pledged to accord as Mayor. Any deviations from the NYPD's official Patrol Guide should be sanctioned according to NYPD policies and procedures.

Q6. Despite grumbling about being responsible for issuing "press passes" (official credentials), the NYPD continues to perform that function. Those credentials state that the bearer is entitled to cross police lines wherever formed. Would you require the NYPD to rigorously follow its own stated policies and return to honoring press credentials and the privilege it bestows on news gatherers?

A6. The NYPD in my administration would follow its own stated policies. Press credentials and the privileges therein will be honored as laid out in the NYPD's own stated policies.

From: John Liu (D) NYC Comptroller (received 6/21/2013)
Q1. Do you believe the press has a right to cover the news, and to have timely and unfettered access to documents and information that are rightly recognized to be public information? What would you do as Mayor to enforce those beliefs?

A1. The press serves an important function in a democratic society, disseminating information to the public so that they can make informed choices and also serving as a check upon government. The press does have the right to unfettered access to documents and information that are recognized to be public information. As Comptroller, my office has made transparency a priority and has made an unprecedented amount of information readily available to the press and public on the Comptroller's website. As Mayor, I would make sure all agencies understand the importance of providing information to the press and public in a timely manner and promptly address issues with the press and public obtaining public information.

Q2. Do you believe the NYPD is required to not only honor press rights, but to protect them as well? Or do you believe the NYPD should be exempt from those requirements?

A2. As with all City agencies, the NYPD is required to honor press rights unless doing so would jeopardize public safety and should protect the press if someone is committing a criminal act that prevents the press from doing its job.

Q3. Do you believe and support the proposition that the police do NOT have a right to arbitrarily or unreasonably interfere with the press as it tries to do its job? Do you believe that police officers that engage in such acts should be seriously sanctioned regardless of rank?

A3. Yes.

Q4. Would you pledge to direct your Police Commissioner to support the rights of the press to cover the news and to actively promote such a policy?

A4. Yes.

Q5. Over the last two administrations, the NYPD's Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Public Information (DCPI) has come to be seen by many reporters and photographers as the Office of No Information or Misinformation! It wasn't always that way. Would you require your Police Commissioner to restore respect for press rights at DCPI?

A5. Yes. The DCPI should be setting a good example of how the NYPD works with the press to ensure the public is supplied with important information.

Q6. Despite grumbling about being responsible for issuing "press passes" (official credentials), the NYPD continues to perform that function. Those credentials state that the bearer is entitled to cross police lines wherever formed. Would you require the NYPD to rigorously follow its own stated policies and return to honoring press credentials and the privilege it bestows on news gatherers?

A6. Yes.

From: Christine Quinn (D) Speaker, NYC Council (received 6/25/2013)
Speaker Quinn chose not to answer the specific questions in our survey. She has opted instead to submit this statement:

New York Press Club:

I am fully committed to freedom of the press and to ensuring that the media has the ability to inform all New Yorkers on the many important issues facing our city. The press fulfills a critical public service that forms the foundation of public debate and serves as a watchdog to ensure the integrity of our city institutions.

Unfortunately, when news breaks it is often the result of tragedy. Our outstanding police department plays a crucial role in protecting the public at large while events are ongoing and it's also important to preserve the integrity of crime scenes during such events. Balancing these roles with the constitutionally protected rights of a free press is something I take very seriously. Under my direction, the NYPD will continue to both honor and protect the rights of a free press. I will hold accountable any officer who obstructs newsgathering and set a standard as Mayor that assures all New Yorkers that our government is operating as transparently as possible.

Indeed, the most important news affecting city policies and their implementation in the city often is not obtained simply by using a press pass but by the diligent investigation of documents by reporters. That's why, as mayor, I will ensure that public information remains accessible and easily available to reporters and the public at large. In an era of both established newspaper journalists, bloggers and citizen reporters, we must work to ensure democratic access to information. As part of my ongoing efforts toward a more transparent City Hall I would work to put as much information online as possible through outlets like MyCityHall.gov.

Police officers in the NYPD's Deputy Commissioner for Public Information play a crucial role in ensuring that press gets their story and informs the broader public. Our city is the media capital of the world and home to many of the world's great newspapers. There is a tradition of free press and vigorous debate in our city's history and I am committed to ensuring this continues under my term as mayor.

Meet a Member

Liz Willen
Liz Willen
Editor of The Hechinger Report


An award-winning education reporter and longtime Press Club member, Liz is editor of the nonprofit, education-news organization The Hechinger Report. More in Meet a Member.

Member News

Kieran Crowley
Kieran Crowley
Writes thriller called, HACK.



First novel written and released under his own name. More in Member News.

The Constant Columnist

Joanne Stevens
Joanne Stevens
Lessons from the News Coach: Stand-ups: They Are Not All About You.


I feel more and more as if I'm being distracted by reporter standups rather than being further edified about the story More in The Constant Columnist.
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