Court orders Ferguson police not to interfere with photographers

As the news heats up again in Ferguson, a federal judge for the Eastern District of Missouri issued three orders to Missouri State Highway Patrol, City of Ferguson, and County of St. Louis, stating that police agencies must not interfere with those photographing or otherwise recording in public places. The specific language states that these police agencies are prevented from “interfering with individuals who are photographing or recording at public places but who are not threatening the safety of others or physically interfering with the ability of law enforcement to perform their duties.” The NPPA Advocacy blog has a short background on the cases that led to these orders, as well as links to the three orders.

Though these orders were in place over the weekend, at least one journalist, Trey Yingst, was arrested on Saturday for allegedly failing to disperse when asked by law enforcement. police have been ordering people not to stand on streets, but Yingst was not, according to an ACLU of Missouri statement about the arrest that says that eyewitness accounts of the arrest and video recordings show Yingst exercising first amendment rights to take video while standing on a sidewalk.

Poynter has a good page full of information for journalists heading back to Ferguson to cover the news as it unfolds, which also links to information about what you should do if you get arrested in Ferguson.

Related: Check out Poynter’s story about local high school student journalists covering the events in Ferguson. It’s a fascinating view on the news told by those who are living in the middle of it. One particularly interesting story from Kirkwood (High School) Call highlighted by Poynter focused on students from Ferguson facing difficulty getting to school when protests erupted.

And check out my previous post on the visual politics of Ferguson coverage while you’re at it.

ISIS has killed 17 Iraqi journalists over past 10 months

Mohanad al-Aqidi (left), who is said to have been shot, and Raad Mohamed al-Azaoui, who was publicly beheaded. Photograph: Journalists Without Borders
Mohanad al-Aqidi (left), who is said to have been shot, and Raad Mohamed al-Azaoui, who was publicly beheaded. Photograph: Journalists Without Borders

Much attention was given to the recent killings of Steven Sotloff and James Foley by the hands of ISIS, and deservedly so. Their executions are a chilling reminder of the risks faced by journalists covering the world’s most dangerous places. But little has been written about the many other non-western journalists who have been kidnapped and killed by ISIS over the past year. In the past 10 months, the Guardian reports, as many as 17 Iraqi journalists have been executed by ISIS, sometimes in public beheadings.

Reporters Without Borders remains one of the best sources for information about the dangers to journalists working in ISIS territory and around the world. Here are some reports on killings of local journalists by ISIS militants over the past year:

  • Confusion About Iraqi Journalist’s Reported Death In Mosul
  • ISIS – Major Threat To Media Freedom In Both Iraq And Syria
  • Three Citizen-journalists Among Hostages Executed By ISIS
  • Islamic State Publicly Executes Iraqi Cameraman In Samarra
  • Jihadi Group Kills Iraqi Cameraman In Northern Syria
  • ISIS Threatening To Execute Iraqi Journalists (one of these journalists was reported killed last week)
  • First Media Victims Of ISIS Offensive
  • The Committee to Protect Journalists, another great source for this sort of information, reports that at least 80 journalists have been kidnapped in Syria since 2011, and about 20, mostly Syrian, journalists remain in captivity there. While ISIS has been in its current state only since about 2013, many of the journalists kidnapped in Syria between 2011 and 2013, including James Foley, ended up in ISIS’ hands.

    US Forest Service may require photography permits for journalists in wilderness areas

    A sign posted by the US Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management indicates the start of public land north of Ingomar, Montana. - © M. Scott Brauer
    A BLM sign marks the edge of public land north of Ingomar, Montana. – © M. Scott Brauer

    UPDATE (25 Sept. 2014): The US Forest Service has extended the comment period and delayed the rules regarding photography permits amid growing public outcry.

    Original post: The US Forest Service seems to have taken a page from so-called Ag-Gag laws around the country; rules will be finalized this November requiring reporters to apply and pay for a permit to shoot video or photos in designated federal wilderness areas. According to this OregonLive report, permits may cost up to $1,500, though, oddly, the penalty for taking photos without a permit will only go up to $1,000. The acting director of the US Forest Service told OregonLive that the policies, which have been “temporarily” in place for 4 years, are part of the organizations efforts to protect wilderness areas from being commercially exploited as designated under the Wilderness Act of 1964.

    The International Business Times also has coverage of the proposed rules, including thoughts from NPPA general counsel Mickey Osterreicher. I join with Osterreicher and other free press advocates in thinking that these rules are a substantial restriction on constitutional rights and should be abandoned. While I can understand a need to regulate, for instance, large-scale film crews using federal land for Hollywood productions, it’s ridiculous to require journalists to apply and pay for permission to take pictures on wilderness land.

    The Bureau of Land Management, some of whose land appears in my photograph above, does not require permits for photography.

    You can comment on the proposed rules regarding permits for stills and video until November 3, 2014.

    Related: A Kitsap Sun reporter had odd restrictions placed on him while covering efforts to save a historic building in Olympic National Park. He was prevented from speaking to people involved in the story, held back from the scene, and otherwise hassled during what should have been a pretty straightforward and non-confrontational reporting assignment. You can read Tristan Baurick’s final piece on the effort here.

    (via friends on facebook)