By: Allan Wolper
Big Apple rotten to press corps?
Ed Keating, a photographer for The New York Times, and Ed Holston, a Syracuse University graduate student intern at the paper, rushed to Times Square to shoot a billboard that had broken loose.
Keating, his police press card dangling from his neck, was grabbed by police officers who kept him away from the accident scene. But Holston, with no press credentials, kept walking and shot several rolls of film, and one of his photos was published on the Times front page the next day.
That incident is one of 57 chronicled in a draft lawsuit drawn up by a coalition of New York City newspapers and the New York Press Club, an organization of print and electronic journalists.
New York police have confiscated press cards, placed their hands in front of camera lenses, and given nonjournalists more access to news events than bona fide journalists.
Until a month ago, it appeared the lawsuit would be formalized and filed in federal court. But Mortimer B. Zuckerman, chairman and co-publisher of the New York Daily News, met secretly with Rudolph Giuliani and Howard Safir, his police chief, to negotiate an end to the harassment of reporters. Zuckerman says Giuliani will sign an executive order to end the harassment soon or he will sue the mayor.
“There is nothing to be gained by going to court if we can accomplish what we need by negotiation,” Zuckerman informs E&P. “The mayor agreed to everything we asked for. I don’t think he was fully aware of what was going on.”
Zuckerman says that Safir informed him that only 12 press cards have been confiscated during the Giuliani administration. According to the Daily News co-publisher, “[Safir] said that two of the cards were taken from reporters who were drunk.”
Inspector Michael Collins, the top-ranked uniformed cop in Giuliani’s press office, insists his officers took away press cards only when reporters interfered with his officers.
“The number of press passes confiscated is rare, considering the number of daily interactions between police and media,” Collins says.
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?(copyright: Editor & Publisher May 29, 1999) [Caption]