Radio & Television News Association

Sunday, May 13, 2007

RTNDA Calls for Probe of Police

RTNDA Calls for Probe of Police Treatment of Media at Los Angeles Rally

WASHINGTON -- The Radio-Television News Directors Association is expressing concern about apparent police mistreatment of journalists covering the May 1 immigration demonstration in Los Angeles and calls for an investigation into activities that hindered with the coverage of a news event.

Witnesses gathered at MacArthur Park report seeing members of the Los Angeles Police Department harassing journalists and interfering with the newsgathering process. Published reports indicate officers addressed the media specifically and said they were there illegally and television coverage shows police beating reporters in the crowd.

RTNDA fully supports a statement issued earlier today by the Radio and Television News Association, an organization of radio and television journalists in the Los Angeles area, calling for an immediate and complete investigation.

“Under no circumstances should police interfere with newsgathering when there is no jeopardy to reporters or demonstrators,” says RTNDA president Barbara Cochran. “As a national organization we fully support our colleagues in Los Angeles as they pursue a remedy to yesterday’s events.”

RTNDA endorses training for law enforcement in the role journalists play and the treatment they should receive in covering news events. The association has resources that could be made available for such training.

RTNDA is the world’s largest professional organization devoted exclusively to electronic journalism. RTNDA represents local and network news professionals in broadcasting, cable and other electronic media in more than 30 countries.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

SPJ and Press Club letters to Chief Bratton

Open Letter to Chief William Bratton from the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Press Club May 2, 2007

Chief William Bratton
Office of Chief of Police
Los Angeles Police Department
Parker Center
150 N. Los Angeles Street
Los Angeles, Calif. 90012


Dear Chief Bratton:

As Los Angeles' oldest news media organization, we wish to express our concern about police officers' attacks on news reporters and photographers yesterday during the immigration rally in MacArthur Park. There is no excuse for these attacks which sent several news professionals to the hospital for treatment of their injuries.

The press pass issued by your department clearly identifies reporters and photographers. It's doubtful that your officers could have mistaken newspeople for protesters. The MacArthur Park attack was not an isolated instance. LAPD officers shot credentialed reporters and photographers with non-lethal projectiles that also caused injuries during the 2000 Democratic National Convention.

Besides the investigation into the incident that you have already ordered, we urge you to take extra steps to ensure these deplorable actions against the press do not reoccur. We urge you to require that division and bureau commanders order special roll calls to make it clear to every patrol officer and detective that news professionals are impartial observers who are off limits to attack, abuse or arrest as long as they are just doing their jobs. If our organization can be helpful in any regard to policy, please let us know.


Diana Ljungaeus
Executive Director
Los Angeles Press Club for


o - o - o

The Board of Directors of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists wishes to express its grave concern over the conduct of LAPD officers toward members of the news media in the course of dispersing demonstrators in MacArthur Park following the day-long political march and rallies in downtown Los Angeles Tuesday, May 1, 2007.

Video footage, second-hand reporting and first-person accounts by reporters and crews for several broadcast outlets strongly suggest that officers may have overreacted and assaulted news personnel who were either appropriately attempting to cover a breaking news story, or were attempting to comply with police orders to clear the area.

We note that Mayor Villaraigosa and Chief Bratton have publicly expressed their own concerns about the matter, and that the mayor reportedly has asked the chief to oversee a “complete and comprehensive review of this incident, including deployment, tactics and use of force.”

We applaud the mayor’s and the chief’s commitment, and we urge that this be undertaken as expeditiously as possible, with the full findings to be made public at the earliest opportunity.

Looking beyond this incident, however, we request that Chief Bratton consider convening a working group that would include representatives of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and other leading local journalism organizations to review current LAPD protocols for dealing with media personnel in such situations for possible revisions and improvements to minimize the likelihood of similar occurrences in the future.

AFTRA Sees Red Over L.A. Police 'Brutality'

By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/9/2007 1:53:00 PM

The American Federation of Radio and Television Artists, the union representing media workers, has issued a list of questions it wants answered and actions taken in the wake of the L.A. police's attacks on media workers during the MacArthur Park May 1 demonstration on immigration.

Those include a public acknowledgment of wrongdoing by the mayor and police, ongoing training for police, and money. The police have conceded it was an overreaction and have reportedly taken some disciplinary steps.

"The attacks on media workers were despicable and unlawful," said Lawrence Mayberry, AFTRA Los Angeles Director of Broadcast,. "Some media workers -- including an AFTRA member -- were seriously injured, and most, if not all, were terrified by the open display of police brutality. The events in MacArthur Park cast a pall on the entire news media as well as serving up a major black eye to the image of Los Angeles, the so-called "City of Angels".
., he said in a memo to AFTRA members.
Following are AFTRA's demands as outlined to members.

1. There must be open, transparent and independent investigations of the May Day Incident, with appropriate penalties and punishments meted out.

2. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Police Chief William J. Bratton must make public statements acknowledging that the LAPD attacks on media workers was despicable and unlawful behavior and will not be tolerated in Los Angeles; The recent statements by both the Mayor and the Chief are encouraging, as is the reassignment of certain police officers, but so much more is needed by way of concrete steps to change a culture in the LAPD that permits the May Day melee in the first place.

3. There needs to be rapid development and implementation of a LAPD Media Relations training curriculum. Said training to be regular and ongoing. Media workers and their employer stations to be coordinated with and used as trainers.

4. There needs to be a review of ongoing relations/encounters between media workers and LAPD at local news and crime scenes. Media worker access to these sites is imperative. Any recommendations to improve the actual on the ground scenarios should include Media workers and their unions in the deliberation process.

5. We demand an open meeting with the stakeholders in this matter: the unions, the Mayor, the Chief of Police.

6. We demand more funding for the LAPD Labor Detail.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

RTNA Demands Probe of Police Actions

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Radio and Television News Association today demanded a thorough probe into ``the violent treatment of journalists'' by police during disturbances at a pro-immigration rally at MacArthur Park.

``The Radio and Television News Association calls for an immediate and complete investigation of the violent treatment of journalists by Los Angeles Police Department personnel at the conclusion of Tuesday's immigration march,'' said an RTNA statement.

``There is evidence that officers knocked reporters to the ground, used batons on photographers and damaged cameras, possibly motivated by anger over journalists photographing efforts by officers to control the movements of marchers,'' said an RTNA statement.

``We are asking that if any journalists have information regarding this matter, including videotape of encounters between police and reporters, that they notify RTNA immediately by calling (562) 987-4545.''

RTNA President Steve Kindred, the business anchor at KFWB, added in a telephone interview that the organization, which represents Southland broadcasters, would conduct its own investigation into the incidents. That investigation will be spearheaded by the RTNA's legal counsel, Royal Oakes.

``We're disturbed by some of the video we've seen but, like the police department, we'd like to look at it objectively,'' Kindred said.

He said that the RTNA, given its ``ongoing interest in improving relations with the police department,'' wants to ``make sure that we have a full understanding'' of what transpired yesterday.

Police chief William Bratton indicated he is displeased by the conduct of some of his officers in yesterday's disturbances.

``Some of what I've seen as chief of the department does not look appropriate,'' Bratton told KNX this morning. ``There were some scenes there, clearly, based on my years of experience and the years of experience of many of my command staff, did not appear to be (appropriate).''
Television footage shows a crowd, apparently prodded by police, sweeping through a live broadcast by a Telemundo reporter, injuring some employees of the Spanish-language station.
An officer can be seen knocking down a cameraman, then grabbing the camera and tossing it to the ground.

A Telemundo anchor said the police action in response to the behavior of some demonstrators was disproportionate.

One reporter who was at the scene said a police order to clear the park was boomed from a helicopter only after officers on the ground began moving against demonstrators and journalists.