New NFL Sideline Rules Irk News Photographers p.14

By: David Noack Now they must stay 15 feet back from the sideline, behind TV cameras,
NFL Films crews and groups of 'special pass' visitors
By david noack
Adecision by the National Football League to create a new sideline zone for television and NFL Films crews - at the expense of newspaper and other news photographers - has sparked a controversy over the growing problem of sideline congestion.
The policy, part of an agreement inked earlier this year between the NFL and TV networks, establishes a two-tiered system for photographing games. CBS, ABC, ESPN and Fox together are spending roughly $17 billion for the rights to broadcast games over the next eight years.
Currently, all sideline photographers - whether electronic or print - work from 12 feet behind the sideline, marked in white. A new 3-foot zone, marked by a yellow line, is being carved out for network and NFL crews. They will be restricted to three individuals - two network and one NFL photographer - who must kneel.

15 feet back
The new line will push newspaper and other photographers three more feet back to 15 feet from the sideline. The new rule, effective with the upcoming preseason games, doesn't apply to end zones, where photographers shoot from behind a 6-foot line.
Newspaper photographers say the rule will make it more difficult to get good shots without someone walking in front of the lens.
"This is a zone created for the networks and NFL Films which is the NFL. . . . This was written into the new contract," said Robert Hanashiro, a staff photographer for USA Today.

Will other leagues follow?
He's worried that other professional sports leagues, such as Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association, might try to follow suit and further restrict photographers.
Julia Schmalz, a sports photo editor at USA Today who also oversees NFL assignments, said the new rule will not make photographers' jobs any easier.
"It hurts our access by giving them (television, NFL Films) better access," said Schmalz, who added the newspaper is deciding how to respond to the new rule.
Rich Clarkson, who heads the National Press Photographers Association sports committee, said that while the new zone doesn't create an insurmountable problem, it raises the larger issue of sideline congestion.

NPPA Objects
In a letter to Greg Aiello, a top NFL communications official, Clarkson said the new line "further back from the network crews is, as you can imagine, not being well received by those responsible for still photographs of the game."
"The problem is worsened by the number of people on the sidelines from officials, yard-line crews, ball boys to network timeout coordinators," Clarkson said. "Add to that the television hand-held crews and their cable carriers, the NFL Films crews and even in many cases, nonsuited players, and the clear view of the playing field is being pretty severely limited."
Aiello said the changes are being made for the networks and safety considerations.
"The networks felt it was important to not only have a primary shooting position from the sidelines, but also from up above so you don't have heads on the edge of the field. It also has a positive safety factor by moving everyone a little bit further back," said Aiello.
He admitted the sidelines are getting crowded and that the NFL is always looking at its field credentialing policies.
Brian Horton, Associated Press sports photo editor, wrote the NFL in April, asking for clarification and reconsideration. "I pointed out that it makes a difficult job more difficult and because it cuts down on your angles. It puts you farther back and now you're blocked even more by the players, coaches, and in this case the television cameras in front of you which limits your field of view," he said.
Horton also said the NFL needs to re-examine its sideline credentialing policy on the grounds that the NFL uses the sideline "as a place to give people In Cincinnati, I covered the Bengals for several years, and at the time the guy who did the dry cleaning for the team had a sideline pass and so on, because the Football Writers Association won't let them do that in the press box," said Horton.
Kent Porter, a staff photographer at the Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, Calif., agreed, saying, "There are more nonprofessional shooters on the sidelines now, individuals who bring their children, fathers and mothers to games. . . . All too often I've missed pictures because an overzealous person was cheering the play or jumping in front of the cameras. Some have even gotten hurt by the play itself," said Porter.
?(- Kent Porter, photographer, Santa Rosa, Calif., Press Democrat) [Caption]
?(Editor & Publisher Web Site: http: www.mediainfo. com) [caption]
?(Editor & Publisher, July 4, 1998) [Caption]


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here