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November 22, 2011

All Reporters on Earth Must Have an NYPD Press Pass or Face Immediate Arrest

Here's something I've been unsuccessfully trying to get people in the media to point out:

Josh Stearns has been making a list of all the reporters arrested while covering various Occupy events across the country. There are currently 26 people on it.

A few days ago Michael Bloomberg's spokesman Stu Loeser came across the list and sent out email saying this:

Not being familiar with many of the media outlets for which The Awl says these reporters work, I had the list of “26 arrested reporters” checked against the roster of reporters who hold valid NYPD press passes.

You can imagine my surprise when we found that only five of the 26 arrested reporters actually have valid NYPD-issued press credentials.

Now, this is bogus for a bunch of reasons, such as a) it's nearly impossible to get an NYPD press pass; b) police specifically prevented reporters who did have NYPD passes from getting anywhere near the Zuccotti Park eviction; c) as Loeser himself admits, even reporters with the magic credentials were arrested; and most importantly d) when exactly did America become a place where the government decides who gets to report the news?

But here's the funny thing that no one seems to have noticed: of the 26 reporters on the list, about ten of them (the list is unclear) were not in New York when they were arrested. That is, 40% of them were arrested in Boston, Oakland, and Nashville, etc. It seems a little much to require journalists in other cities to have NYPD press passes.

I don't know whether Stu Loeser was being slippery or just incredibly lazy. But either way, according to him, ALL REPORTERS EVERYWHERE ON EARTH must have NYPD press credentials or be subject to arrest at any time.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at November 22, 2011 01:26 PM

The whole issue of "Press passes" is just one more violation of the first amendment.

Posted by: Bilejones at November 22, 2011 04:19 PM

Yeah, why the fuck does the NYPD get to decide who covers them, exactly? Where is that legal in any way, not to mention moral?

Posted by: saurabh at November 22, 2011 04:32 PM

Any bloody excuse ( even if makes them look like bloody idiots ) to keep the citizenry in the dark.... from knowing the brutality committed by their fascist thugs on peaceful protesters.......

Posted by: Rupa Shah at November 22, 2011 04:38 PM

Please. Have some decorum. He speaks for THE MAYOR, after all.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at November 22, 2011 04:47 PM

@ Mike Meyer
Are you directing your comment at my language or in general? Mayor or no Mayor, one can not demand respect, one has to earn it.
If your comment is not about my language, ignore what wrote!

Posted by: Rupa Shah at November 22, 2011 05:46 PM

Sounds like the marijuana tax stamp the government offered during pot prohibition.

Posted by: Psychoverse at November 22, 2011 05:55 PM

Rupa Shah: Don't mind me. The man is in middle management. BTB the mayor in MY town OPENLY admits to being afraid of me and has a standing order that I am to be arrested if I show up at city hall.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at November 22, 2011 08:10 PM

So much of this police eviction and targeting of the press was sleazy. A very important point is that mainstream media doesn't really care about violations of freedom of the press. See these 2 new videos: Rare Exception to Media Blackout of Media Blackout

Posted by: Tom Murphy at November 22, 2011 09:22 PM

But either way, according to him, ALL REPORTERS EVERYWHERE ON EARTH must have NYPD press credentials or be subject to arrest at any time.

Well, duh, because if they don't, clearly they hate America.

Posted by: Batocchio at November 23, 2011 02:02 AM

BTB the mayor in MY town OPENLY admits to being afraid of me and has a standing order that I am to be arrested if I show up at city hall.

so that's why the exhortations to alwAys call people?

But seriously, BRAVO - raucous applause from me.

Posted by: almostinfamous at November 23, 2011 02:43 AM

This is necessary in these days for the security issues all over the world.

Posted by: call center at November 23, 2011 03:01 AM


First-time applicants should contact the Press Credentials office (above) before completing their application.

Applicants must be a member of the media who covers, in person, emergency, spot or breaking news events and/or public events of a non-emergency nature, where police, fire lines or other restrictions, limitations, or barriers established by the City of New York have been set up for security or crowd control purposes, within the City of New York; or covers, in person, events sponsored by the City of New York which are open to members of the press.

Applicants also must submit one or more articles, commentaries, books, photographs, videos, films or audios published or broadcast within the twenty–four (24) months immediately preceding the Press Card application, sufficient to show that the applicant covered in person six (6) or more events occurring on separate days.

Neither citizen journalists nor bloggers need apply in that case, it seems. What's the point in governments passing a constitution which guarantees certain freedoms or passing a bill of rights which asserts certain rights if the policing arm of the government turns around and places "restrictions, limitations, or barriers" on those freedoms and rights?

Just wait until they decide that blogging about government misconduct constitutes incitement ...

Posted by: Not Errol Flynn at November 23, 2011 03:14 AM

What do you call a spokesman functionary of a functionary in a hot tub?

Posted by: Ebon Krieg at November 23, 2011 11:24 AM

I would support a city ordinance stating that all reporters ask the rhetorical question "What do they want?" be subject to immediate arrest.

Posted by: Paul Avery at November 23, 2011 12:49 PM

Everyone with or aspiring to authority understands the whole world in terms of authority. A NYPD press pass confers legitimacy, issued as they are by a powerful authority. A step down from this is the authority of reporters is directly related to the size and power of their employer, be it corporation or other sort of institution.

That even a community organizer/conservation advocate descends into scaling the legitimacy of reporters based upon official authorization should not be surprising. As minor a figure as Stearns is, a quick view of his bio notes the organizations he has been or is a member of. He is devoted to networking within hierarchies just as much as any B school grad.

Posted by: rapier at November 24, 2011 09:00 AM

"Everyone with or aspiring to authority understands the whole world in terms of authority."

That's very insightful.

Posted by: N E at November 25, 2011 05:52 PM