Radio & Television News Association

Thursday, June 15, 2006

News Organizations Protest Unreasonable Restrictions


Los Angeles –– Media organizations today strongly protested yesterday’s restrictions placed on them by police officers at yesterday’s evictions of protestors from a so-called urban garden southeast of the civic center.

In a letter to both Los Angeles police agencies, the Radio & TV News Assn. of Southern California demanded an explanation as to why reporters were “precluded from gaining clear access to a news story of substantial interest to the public.” Earlier an attorney for the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) also queried the actions taken by LAPD.

Text of the protest letter follows:

Dear Chief Bratton and Sheriff Baca:

”This office represents the Radio and Television News Association
of Southern California, an organization whose members include the major
news outlets in the Los Angeles area. This letter protests, in the
strongest possible terms, the unconstitutional restriction on the rights
of journalists to cover the Urban Garden eviction in Los Angeles on June
13, 2006. For no valid reason whatsoever, reporters were prohibited
from gaining access to a public sidewalk, on the east side of Long Beach
Boulevard at 41st Street. Instead, the journalists were
ordered to stay to the west of train tracks that ran parallel to and
west of the sidewalk. As a result, the media were precluded from gaining
clear access to a news story of substantial interest to the public.

“The presence of many law enforcement officials at the scene did
not assist in resolving this problem. Reporters objected to the
restrictions; LAPD representatives, who were apparently charged with
maintaining the perimeter while LASD representatives carried out the
eviction, refused to alter the perimeter that had been established by
LASD. A public information officer for the LAPD who arrived near the
end of the incident apparently expressed regret at how the matter had
been handled. Without speculating as to the possible motive for the
effort to keep reporters at an improper distance from a news event, RTNA
wishes to lodge this protest, and asks for an assurance from your
offices that the matter will be investigated, and steps will be taken to
prevent a repeat of the incident.

Very truly

Royal F. Oakes
General Counsel,

cc: Steve Kindred, President, RTNA”

# # #

For comment, please call Messrs Oakes or Kindred as follows:

Royal Oakes
Barger & Wolen LLP

Steve Kindred
President, RTNA

Or call RTNA for assistance

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Proposed New LAPD Credentialing System

On Thursday, June 1, 2006, Mary Grady of the LAPD
visited the RTNA board meeting to discuss her proposal
for modifying the process of issuing press passes for
the media. Following is a summary of the discussion:

• There are currently 4,000 press passes in use.

• The ordinance for issuance of press passes is
Chapter V, Article 2, Section 52.16: News Media
Identification Cars, Issuance of.

• The ordinance was established in the 1970’s through
collaboration of a group of journalists, the LAPD, and
the city attorney’s office.

• The problem: since the 1970’s a lot of new types of
media have emerged that tout themselves as “news” and
want to get press passes; entertainment-reporting
programs, sports-reporting programs, freelancers,
internet news providers, and blogs.

• The current sticking point in the ordinance is the
word “regularly”: “…reporters and photographers who
regularly cover news events at which police and/or
fire lines within the City of Los Angeles are

• Mary has to follow the current established ordinance
as it stands. However, the newer media categories
cause problems because they aren’t addressed in the

• Mary studied how other police departments worked
with this challenge.

• The New York Police Department has a 3-card system
in place that shows some promise.

• Mary reviewed their system and has modified it to
create her proposal.

Mary’s Proposal:
A two-card system.

1. A photo-ID card. A working Journalist ID card with
a photo and scanning capabilities on it, similar to
what is currently in existence. These are for working
journalists. Anyone who currently has an LAPD Press
Pass will automatically get “grandfathered” in and
receive a new press pass. Background checks will be
required. Anyone else who applies and who meets the
current guidelines/ordinance will get a Photo ID as

2. A “Media” card. This card has no photograph.
Instead, it has the name of the organization on it.
These are for people or organizations (like
Entertainment Tonight) who do NOT meet the current
ordinance for a press pass. The organization will be
issued a limited quantity of cards based upon the
quantity of people they have doing news operations.
The organization is responsible for controlling the
cards. If they lose the cards, they must wait until
the next 5-year cycle for issuance of new cards.
These are for temporary use for certain situations

• Mary stressed that this is still just a proposal.
She’s actively seeking input from journalists to
create a workable process.

• The exact criteria for defining who would receive
media cards and who would not are still being