NPPA offers guide for covering crisis p.23

By: Editorial Staff

THE NATIONAL PRESS Photographers Association is celebrating its 50th anniversary with the publication of a comprehensive guide for covering calamitous events.
The 90-page “National Media Guide For Emergency & Disaster Incidents” covers such topics as media identification, barrier tape guidelines, command post/media information centers, media and the military, private property considerations, bomb squad efforts, media access photo sites, hostage situations, hazardous materials incidents, and rail, truck and air disasters.
The book’s authors, photographers Bob Riha Jr. and David Handschuh, stress that it also was written for reporters, editors, police and fire officers and other public safety representatives.
Riha of Long Beach, Calif., is a freelance/contract photographer for USA Today and a past president of the California Press Photographers Association.
Handschuh has been a staff photographer for the New York Daily News since 1987, is a director of NPPA’s Region 2 and the founding president of the organization’s New York City chapter.
In response to the complaints by legitimate reporters and photographers of phony journalists or groupies who converge on disaster scenes, the authors point out that NPPA recommends that public safety agencies not honor “mail-order” press cards and that the agencies standardize criteria for issuing media identification.
Regarding barrier tapes, they write: “Regardless if it is yellow, red, blue or international orange; whether it says Police Line, Do Not Cross, Caution or just Keep Out, barrier tape is an important part of incident isolation, scene containment and control.
“Before a media representative crosses a delineated perimeter, it is essential that the journalist secure permission to pass.”
Journalists are further advised to show their identification to the nearest official and to ask to speak to the nearest media liaison person.
Private property, according to the book, is off limits to the media unless consent is obtained from the owner.
The National Media Guide is available at $12 per copy from NPPA headquarters in Durham, N.C.

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