'All in a day's work': Reporters arrested at Occupy protests
The Committee to Protect Journalists normally calls attention to the plight of reporters and editors the world over who are coerced, beaten or murdered for reporting the news. It now finds it necessary to call attention to the way police have arrested and otherwise interfered with journalists trying to report on the Occupy demonstrations."Occupy Protests Present a New Terrain of Risk for Reporters," the Columbia Journalism Review reports.What country is this?The Newspaper Guild has long represented journalists and, in keeping with journalistic tradition, doesn't normally inject itself into public disputes. It, too, has lodged protests:
Weve now faced a spate of journalist arrests as governments have moved to close down Occupy camps. Now, more than ever, we need to understand the Occupy movement. Journalists who are incarcerated cant get their stories out.Most notably, New York City prevented journalists from doing their work. With overly harsh tactics, Mayor Michael Bloomberg played a strong hand in forcing protestors out of Zuccotti Park.As citizens we need to know the true story of Occupy, and we need to know how law enforcement handles the protestors. The First Amendment allows peaceful protests, and the ability to report on them especially when that peace is shattered for whatever reason. Blocking journalists from reporting suggests there is something to hide.
The Guild set up a Facebook page, Occupied Journalists, to chronicle the story.The protesters are not blame-free; in some cases, they have attacked or threatened journalists. They taunt and harass police with screaming invective. But the greater concern is that the power of government is being wielded, bluntly at times and incidentally at others, to conceal the truth.News organizations, often reluctant to put themselves into the midst of a contentious story, should report on this. But strangely, one of the brashest voices in American journalism, the editorial board of real estate executive Mort Zuckerman's Daily News, was unconcerned that the paper's reporter was placed under arrest when he should have been providing on-the-scene reports of the early-morning police raid on Zuccotti Park:
Yes, some journalists, including a Daily Newser, were taken in for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Prompt release was had. Chalk it up to all in a days work and getting a tale to tell the grandkids.
About the Author
Paul Moses, a professor of journalism at Brooklyn College/CUNY, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009).