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Friday, August 15, 2014

Reporters arrested in Missouri

I'm posting this partly to share an opinion but also to ask for clarification as to whether or not I understand the reporter situation in Missouri correctly.

A WaPost reporter and HuffPo reporter were arrested briefly in a McDonald's the other day. They were there to do some reporting on the protests in Ferguson.

It is generally unseemly to me when reporters themselves become the story as opposed to the events they are covering, but given the militarization of the scene I can understand why this incident warranted some coverage.

What I'm unsure about, though....is whether or not they were arrested for reporting? Yes, they were told to turn their cameras off (we do, in fact, have the right to film police officers) but as far as I understand it, committing the act of journalism was not the reason they were arrested.

I don't feel like I'm going out of my way to defend the police here (they were almost certainly going overboard), but there is a difference between getting arrested for doing journalism and being arrested for doing something else even if you happen to be a journalist.

I repeat, I'm less than sure that I know the full details. Perhaps someone here can help...

1 comment:

  1. Dan, I have heard no official reason on why the reporters were arrested. I did hear one of the reporters describe the experience including being shoved. Perhaps that is going overboard.

    Here is a link to a U-tube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQaejUTs5iY
    of the officer trying to get the reporters to leave the McDonald’s restaurant. During the video the officer DOES ask the reporters to turn off their cameras. My impression is that the officer asks them to stop videoing as an expedient to evacuating the building. People may draw different conclusions, but to me the video shows a very concerned officer trying with urgency to get the reporters and the other restaurant patrons out of a developing and dangerous situation.

    It appears the reporters did not share the officer’s goal or sense of urgency and did not want to abandon their location. In retrospect, and not under duress, it is clear the reporters should not have been arrested. In my opinion it is also clear the reporters should have been more cooperative in a very volatile situation.