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General Counsel for NPPA Weighs In On Media Issues Surrounding Party National Conventions

August 24th, 2012 by Advocacy Intern and tagged , , , , , , , ,

Mickey H. Osterreicher, general counsel for the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), offered his legal expertise in a webinar Thursday night in which panelists discussed media issues surrounding the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Tampa, Fla., and the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Charlotte, N.C.

The webinar, entitled “Reporting at the Conventions : Safety, Security & Rights,” featured journalists and policy experts who offered their advice on how to act and what to look for while covering the events.  Josh Stearns, the Journalism and Public Media Campaign Director at Free Press, led the discussion that focused primarily on arrest issues and Fourth Amendment protections against search and seizures.

“I think one of the things that drew [the panel] together was the concern for finding ways to support journalists as the demographics of journalism are changing, and we’re seeing more and more freelance, independent, and citizen journalists out there on the front lines covering these sorts of events,” Stearns said.  “We want to provide tools, networks, resources and support for those journalists.”

The panel featured Natasha Lennard and Susie Cagle, two journalists who shared their experiences of being arrested while covering Occupy protests.  The panel also featured Andy Sellars, who works for the Digital Media Law Project at Harvard’s Berkman Center.

The webinar gave viewers a chance to interact and direct questions to the panelists about issues particularly concerning to them.  In light of the increase of freelance and citizen journalists, one pressing concern involved distinguishing one’s self from protestors and the extent to which media credentials would protect journalists from police interference.

Osterreicher, who will attend both the RNC and DNC, told viewers that only officially issued credentials will be honored and valid for inside security perimeter areas, and that prohibitions against certain items may make it difficult for anyone without those credentials to carry out their assignments.

“The problem is that for both of these conventions, I think the secret service are pretty much setting the tone for these things,” Osterreicher said.  “”It’ll be interesting to see what happens when people are carrying some of these prohibited items to the credentialed area.”

Sellars informed viewers that his group had published a guide on the state of the law in Tampa and Charlotte that will help journalists better understand what to expect while covering the conventions.

“Both Tampa and Charlotte have passed ordinances that prohibit certain items,” Sellars said.  “The trick is that you have to think about these things from the perspective of law enforcement.  It’s not what your intent is so much as what the police think your intent is.”

The RNC runs from Aug. 27-30, while the DNC runs from Sep. 4-6.  For more information on the issues discussed during the webinar, a recording of the event can be seen here.

Posted in Charlotte, Democratic National Convention, First Amendment rights, FL, Florida, National Press Photographers Association, NC, News Photography, Newsgathering, NPPA, photographers, Photographers' Rights, photojournalism, Press Credentials, Republican National Conventiob, Tampa, U.S. Secret Service, Uncategorized | No Comments »

First Amendment Ruling from the Supreme Court

June 28th, 2012 by Alicia Calzada and tagged , , , ,

Though the attention of the nation today is focused on the Supreme Court’s Health Care ruling, it should not be missed that the justices released an important First Amendment decision, striking down the Stolen Valor Act by a vote of 6-3. The Act made it illegal to lie about receiving a medal or military decoration. The bottom line appears to be that “falsity alone may not suffice to bring the speech outside the First Amendment.”

You can read about the decision here: http://www.scotusblog.com/2012/06/court-holds-stolen-valor-act-unconstitutional-dismisses-first-american-financial-v-edwards/

Those arguing for the law to be upheld said that false speech had no value and therefore should not be protected by the First Amendment.

The NPPA was part of a coalition of 24 news media organizations that signed on to an amicus brief arguing that the Act would make the government the arbiter of truth and allowing punishment for false speech would eviscerate press freedom.

The brief can be found here: http://www.rcfp.org/browse-media-law-resources/briefs-comments/united-states-v-alvarez

Supporting the notion that the most appropriate way to fight disagreeable speech is with more speech, and in the marketplace of ideas, the court said:

The Government has not shown, and cannot show, why counterspeech would not suffice to achieve its interest. The facts of this case indicate that the dynamics of free speech, of counterspeech, of refutation, can overcome the lie. Respondent lied at a public meeting. Even before the FBI began investigating him for his false statements “Alvarez was perceived as a phony.”  Once the lie was made public, he wasridiculed online, his actions were reported in the press, and a fellow board member called for his resignation. There is good reason to believe that a similar fate would befallother false claimants.

The entire decision can be read at this link: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/11-210d4e9.pdf

 

Posted in First Amendment, First Amendment rights, National Press Photographers Association, Uncategorized | No Comments »

An Elegant Case for Cameras in the Supreme Court

July 2nd, 2010 by Alicia Calzada and tagged , , , , ,

The NPPA has long advocated for Cameras in the Supreme Court, as well as other federal courts. This week, the broadcast of the Elena Kagan confirmation hearings provided a stark contrast to the dramatic events actually inside the Court on Monday. What came of it is one of the most elegant arguments for cameras in the Supreme Court that I have ever read.

Check out the article here.

Posted in Access, law, photojournalism | No Comments »