Occupy Wall Street Challenges the Conventional View of Journalism
Journalists who do not meet NYPD’s journalism “qualifications” Face Arrest and More
The ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests have not only taken the evolution of the “protest” to a new level; they’ve challenged the definition of journalism as a whole. How does one obtain an “NYPD journalism press pass”? No one knows.
Len Levitt has covered NYPD related stories for decades, a well qualified journalist by any standard. Levitt has found himself at odds with NYPD on several occasions; blocking him from police headquarters is just one of the many roadblocks that the NYPD has placed before him - a fairly provocative move considering that it’s a public building.
The undeterred Levitt responded by filing a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request in order to obtain the names and qualifications of every person who had received an NYPD press pass in order to find some common denominator relating to how the NYPD determines who is “qualified”. The NYPD refused the request and the case dragged on for several years.
Levitt eventually won his case, his attorney fees were reimbursed and after several years of fighting the NYPD’s legal team he got what we wanted.
That was then and this is now. A PBS journalist was recently arrested by NYPD for doing nothing other than covering the protests. John Farley of MetroFocus was recently arrested for the same and spent 9 hours in a jail cell in NYPD’s 1st Precinct.
While it is still unclear as to what is required to obtain a bona fide NYPD press pass, it is fairly clear how one might be disqualified from obtaining one — covering protests is a good start. As the Occupy Wall Street protests grow larger, one can’t help but to wonder whether or not they had the constitutional rights that they had always assumed, or simply presumed they did because they had failed to use them.