Thursday, December 22, 2005

Freedom of the Press?

first responders at 3rd & D st.So we had a little excitement in the neighborhood downtown today.

I was moving my car and I hear all these sirens wailing. I'm thinking maybe the President is coming down the street to lobby Congress or something. That's usually what happens when the cops are clearing the streets.

But this was because a woman was hit by a Metro bus at the intersection of 3rd St. SW and D St. here in DC. The Capitol cops are all over this place, and there is a cop car smashed in at D and 3rd. The ambulances are all rolling and there are fire trucks and first responders all over.

So what did I do? Went in and grabbed my camera. I'm snapping away and one of the cops is like "Hey man, don't do that." Now the first responders are loading this poor woman into an ambulance, and granted I probably wouldn't want someone snapping pictures either. But that's part of being a reporter. As far as I knew, the s*** had hit the fan in the subway station and this was another 9-11. So I told this guy, "Look man, I'm a reporter."

"If you're a reporter, where are your creds?" he said.

"Right here, man, under my coat," and I showed him my badge and my press creds.

"Okay, man," he says. "It's not whether you can, but whether you should, you know?"Cop car crashed at 3rd & C st Dec 22nd

Now the guy has a point, but still it was a public street and I had no idea what was going on. Then this sergeant starts in. "Yeah man, it's a question of whether it's the right thing to do."

All of a sudden I'm getting a journalism ethics class from these two guys? Huh? I mean I know Bush wants to allow the NSA to read our mail and watch us from space, but this is a public street, and it has all kinds of first responders all over it. So what did they expect?

But, granted, I didn't have my creds out, and I probably wouldn't want someone snapping shots of me laying in the street. But it is news. There have been pedestrians killed here in DC by drivers, and the city has taken to using bright orange flags to help drivers see those walking in the streets. There was even a long-time urban designer Charles Atherton hit so hard he went flying through the air. And what did the DC police do? Gave him a ticket!

Loving life in the chocolate city!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm with you dude. There's nothing wrong with taking the pictures; it's releasing them or selling them to the wrong people that becomes the problem. In the interest of reporting what "actually" happened, i.e. the truth, one must sometimes go against their convictions. So, I'm thinking even though you or i wouldn't want someone taking pics of us in a situation like that, it still might be the right thing to do in case there's a discrepency later on, you got the evidence. Drive on!

Cool pics by the way.