Ferguson Cops Are Accused of Using the ‘Catch and Release’ Tactic to Slow Down Journalists

In Ferguson, Mo., a demonstrator picks up a tear gas cannister and throws it back at police four days after the Aug. 9, 2014, shooting death of Michael Brown by police.
Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch
In Ferguson, Mo., a demonstrator picks up a tear gas cannister and throws it back at police four days after the Aug. 9, 2014, shooting death of Michael Brown by police.
Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Photographers Group Fights "Catch and Release" Tactic

In a richly illustrated edition of News Photographer magazine, a publication of the National Press Photographers Association, reporter Sherry Ricchiardi outlines police bullying of journalists in Ferguson, Mo., including a tactic NPPA's lawyer describes as "catch and release."


"The police don't care about making charges that stick. They just want to stop the journalists from doing the job, which creates a chilling effect," Mickey H. Osterreicher, NPPA general counsel, says in the September edition. In some cases, the journalists are not charged, but simply detained to get them out of the way. Osterreicher has filed complaints with city, county and state police.

Ricchiardi writes under the headline "Ferguson Police Bullied the Media":

"By August 19, NPPA general counsel Mickey H. Osterreicher was in Ferguson to provide legal aid and support to NPPA members and other visual journalists working the story.

"In an eMail, [NPPA President Mark] Dolan informed NPPA members: 'Mickey is communicating with law enforcement and political officials in an effort to ensure your First Amendment rights are respected.' The president provided them with the lawyer's cell phone number and his Twitter handle.

"Osterreicher met with two-dozen photojournalists, including NPPA member Pearl Gabel, a New York Daily News photographer. In an account for her newspaper, Gabel described how around 1 a.m. on August 16, a police officer pointed a rifle in her face, shouted for her to get on the ground, and told her she was under arrest for curfew violation.

"After the officer handcuffed her, 'He took my equipment and my cell phone as tear gas swirled around me, rain poured down, and two other people were similarly detained,' wrote Gabel. A short time later, he returned her belongings and let her go.

"Osterreicher describes this technique as 'catch and release.'

" 'The police don't care about making charges that stick. They just want to stop the journalists from doing the job, which creates a chilling effect,' says the lawyer who has conducted training in First Amendment rights for police departments throughout the country.


"Some police policies appeared out of thin air. The ACLU sought an emergency order from a judge to stop police from arresting protesters who stood in place for more than five seconds. The judge refused.

"The 'keep moving mandate' remained in place, 'criminalizing constitutionally protected activity and placing a dangerous barrier on the ability of the media to bring us stories from this city under siege,' the ACLU said in a press release. . . ."


In another section, Ricchiardi writes, "Shortly before midnight on August 19, a citizen journalist was live-streaming amid a group of protesters when a police officer came up with an assault rifle raised. 'My hands are up bro,' the live streamer is heard to say on the video. The officer yells, 'I will f—king kill you. Get back! Get back!'

"When a protester asks his name, the officer responds, 'Go f—k yourself.'

"As the crowd begins to taunt the officer, another officer arrives, pushes the rifle down, and leads his comrade away. The officer in the video, Lt. Ray Albers, a 20-year-veteran from neighboring St. Ann Police Department, was suspended and then resigned.


"St. Ann Police Chief Aaron Jimenez told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, there were 'a whole bunch of what you'd call citizen journalists, who were sitting with cameras recording, waiting for something stupid to happen, which they got. They won on this one.'

"That same day, Canadian television journalist Tom Walters was arrested for asking a question of Capt. Ron Johnson, the Missouri Highway patrolman who had become the face of law enforcement in Ferguson. The exchange took place when police ordered media to leave an area while protesters still were on the scene. A cameraman caught it on video.


Walters asks, 'What's the reason for ordering the media out?'

Johnson responds, 'Arrest him, arrest him.'   'I just asked a question!' says Walters as police approach.


"Johnson can be heard to say, 'Take him.'

"Police held Walters until the next morning when they released him without charges. . . ."


David Carson, NewsGuild-CWA: Global Media Couldn't Best Local Journalists in Ferguson

Paige Lavender & Mariah Stewart, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Cornel West Arrested In Ferguson


Mary Mitchell, Chicago Sun-Times: CTU members joining big crowd in Ferguson

St. Louis American: More than 50 arrested during Ferguson October’s Moral Monday (Oct. 14)


Hard to Show Death by Ebola "With the Dignity It Deserves"

Michel duCille, a Pulitzer Prize-winning associate editor at the Washington Post, photographed scenes showing the devastation of the Ebola virus in Monrovia, Liberia, for a Post spread headlined, "Out of control: How the world's health organizations failed to stop the Ebola disease" that was posted on Oct. 4.


"I believe that the world must see how horrible and dehumanizing are the effects of Ebola," duCille told Journal-isms by email on Monday.

"After eight trips to the African continent, I never tire or complain about the harshness of life. To me, each journey there is an almost spiritual experience. I guess partly because I relate so well to the West African way. Growing up in Jamaica was very much the same; the cadence, body language of the people are very similar.


"Nevertheless, it is exceedingly difficult not to be a feeling human being while covering the Ebola crisis. The scenes are often exceedingly gruesome, making it very hard to avoid showing numerous deaths and even harder to show death with the dignity it deserves. I move with tender care, gingerly, without extreme intrusion. Indeed, one has to feel compassion and above all try to show respect."

Wayne Bennett, the Field Negro: Calling for a racism Czar.

Lee A. Daniels, National Newspaper Publishers Association: Ebola's Other Consequence: Conservative Fear-Mongering


Merlene Davis, Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader: We all have more to worry about than Ebola

Jarvis DeBerry, NOLA.com | the Times-Picayune: Louisiana, Ebola and nonsense about 'unanswered questions'


Media Matters for America: Chuck Todd Calls Out Media For Helping GOP Irresponsibly Push Ebola Fears To Win Votes (video)

Geoff Mulvihill, Associated Press: Ebola-Exposed NBC Crew To Quarantine

Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Keep calm and fight Ebola

Tracie Powell, alldigitocracy.org: Journalism, Ethics & Ebola: Reporting accurately and responsibly


James Ragland, Dallas Morning News: Dallas County health officials get word out about Ebola in 13 languages

Leyou Tameru, the Reporter, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: What Ebola Has Taught Me!

Ex-All-News, All-Beyoncé Station Now "Classic Hip-Hop"

In Houston, "News 92 FM, which until last week was the home of veteran newscasters J.P. Pritchard and Lana Hughes, is now Boom 92.1 FM, home of Geto Boys, Beastie Boys, Snoop Dogg and Run-D.M.C.," David Barron reported Monday for the Houston Chronicle.


"Radio One, which owns three FM stations in Houston, at 5 p.m. Monday launched what it describes as the nation's first major-market classic hip hop station on KROI (92.1 FM), which last Wednesday dropped its all-news format and filled out the week playing Beyonce songs. . . ."

Barron also wrote, "While news is a staple in other markets, in Houston, though, it's music that rules the airwaves and fills the coffers of the major radio chains, including Radio One's new spin on old music. . . ."


Radio One statement

Bill Whitaker's First Story Airs on "60 Minutes"

"He thought it was either a promotion — or the end of his career," Don Kaplan reported Friday for the Daily News in New York.


"When CBS News' West Coast correspondent Bill Whitaker got a surprise call from the network's news chief, Jeff Fager, asking him to fly to New York for a talk, he didn’t know what to expect.

" 'Jeff said he wanted "to talk about my future," ' recalls Whitaker, who spent 20 years filing more than 2,000 stories from the West Coast. 'When the boss says something like that, you know that it's either going to be really good news or the kind of terrible news that you don’t want to hear.'


"Turns out it was the kind of news television correspondents fantasize about.

" 'He wanted to know if I would consider joining them at "60 Minutes," ' Whitaker said. 'When the Godfather makes you an offer you can't refuse, you take it.'


"So he and his family moved from the Hollywood Hills to Harlem.

"Whitaker's first report airs Sunday and focuses on last winter's arrest of Joaquín (El Chapo) Guzmán, the former head of the [Sinaloa] cartel — one of the most powerful drug traffickers in the world, who for a time topped the FBI's most-wanted list along with Osama Bin Laden. . . ."


Kaplan also wrote, "The program was rocked last year when correspondent Lara Logan broadcast a false, scathing report about the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks in Libya. And last spring, the broadcast lost its only black correspondent, Byron Pitts, to ABC News, which meant the '60 Minutes' cadre of correspondents was mostly white men with gray hair. . . ."

"60 Minutes Overtime," CBS News: Bill Whitaker's 60 Minutes debut

Islamic State Beheads Iraqi TV Cameraman, 3 Others

The Islamic State beheaded TV cameraman and photographer Raad Mohamed Al-Azaoui in Samarra, Iraq, after he had been held by the Jihadi organization for more than a month, Reporters Without Borders reported Sunday, condemning the action.


Al-Azaoui, who worked for Sama Salah Aldeen TV, "was subjected to a public execution after Friday prayers. His brother and two other civilians were killed with him," the press freedom organization said.

"Aged 37 and the father of three children, Al-Azaoui had been under threat of execution for refusing to cooperate with IS ever since his abduction in Samarra on 7 September. . . ."


International Federation of Journalists: Kurdish Journalists Detained in Turkey Must Be Released, say IFJ/EFJ

Central African Republic on Brink Again, Without Media

"With gunfire and mob attacks in the streets of the capital, the Central African Republic is teetering again on the edge of mass violence," Jared Malsin wrote Monday for Columbia Journalism Review. "Nine people killed were killed in two days, including a UN peacekeeper from Pakistan and a Muslim civilian whose dead body was decapitated and burned by an angry mob in the capital, Bangui. But world's media are all but absent from the country.


"More than 5,000 people have been killed there in less than a year. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced, entire villages emptied, and most of the country's Muslims forced to flee. Though there are 2,000 UN peacekeepers on the ground, CAR-watchers fear that the country could slide into full-scale sectarian war at any moment. And the stakes of another escalation are extraordinarily high. . . ."

In April, State Department officials told the Association of Opinion Journalists that they listed three major humanitarian crises: In Syria, in the Central African Republic and in the world's newest nation, South Sudan.


Nancy Lindborg, assistant administrator for the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance in the U.S. Agency for International Development, said then that media attention brings funds to nongovernmental relief organizations, saves lives and guards against leaving swaths of territory unprotected and lawless, leaving them to become breeding grounds for worldwide terrorism.

On Both Coasts, Cartoons Depicting Hispanics Draw Fire

Hispanic Heritage Month, which ends Oct. 15, is closing with disputes over two cartoons.


"A California-based conservative group is fuming over a cartoon they found hanging in a state senator's office depicting Arizona’s strict immigration law as racist," Fox News Latino reported on Monday.

"Members of the group 'We the People Rising' apparently saw the cartoon — which shows Arizona police officers pointing guns at immigrants traveling in a van near a highway sign that says 'Welcome to Arizona' — during a visit in the summer to the office of Long Beach Democratic Sen. Ricardo Lara. . . ."


. . . N.Y. Daily News Mariachi Cartoon Called Stereotypical

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists Sunday denounced a cartoon in the Daily News in New York as stereotypical and demanded a public apology.


The cartoon, a commentary on New York's grading of taxis, was published Sunday. It showed mariachis on a train to illustrate "an example of what some may find annoying," the cartoonist, Bob Eckstein, tweeted to NAHJ member Julio Varela, founder of LatinoRebels.com, according to NAHJ.

NAHJ President Mekahlo Medina said in a statement on the NAHJ website, "Our community, for far too long, has been the subject of these stereotypes for the sake of jokes or entertainment. It's disturbing that a journalism organization like the New York Daily News would allow a negative depiction to be used to engage readers on an issue that is important to citizens. The cartoon, for Latinos, is an example of engaging them on the issue of grading transportation . . ."


Ruben Navarrette Jr., Washington Post Writers Group: A heckler's reasoning

Jose Parra, Fox News Latino: What's in a name pronunciation? For Latinos, plenty


Geraldo Rivera, Fox News Latino: Immigration frustration

Bob Ray Sanders, Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Fort Worth Herd drovers get a lesson in their own culture


No More Mug-Shot Galleries for Missouri Paper

The Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader is dropping its regular publication of mug shots because "Greene County's system to distribute mug shots of daily arrests had gone down, and our system to capture them was as useless as an iPhone in western Kansas."


Moreover, Paul Berry, executive director of news and engagement, told readers Sunday, "I'd been thinking lately about the mug shots and our role as the community newspaper. As I've said countless times since getting here, our success hinges on our ability to produce quality journalism that impacts our community.

"Good journalism seeks to bring clarity to confusion, helps us ask informed questions and provides us with the information we need to make informed decisions for our families, businesses and communities.


"We've been struggling with how these galleries fit into our approach. While they serve as a record of arrests in our area, they raise significant questions. Was the arrest justified? Were formal charges filed? What is the condition of the person arrested?

"Without proper context, the galleries serve as little more than a place for people to gawk at those who have been arrested. Many of those who are arrested need our community's help, not our ridicule. . . ."


Berry also wrote, "We'll continue to report on the serious crimes against people in our community, as you've come to expect from us. And we won't shy away from holding people accountable for their actions, including publishing their photos.

"But for now, mug shots are a machine we won't be turning back on again. . . ."

Pitching the Press, With Diversity

The centerfold of the Washington Post's Capital Business section Monday featured a photo of its diverse staff and an invitation to "learn about how to get your news in Capital Business and pitch to reporters one-on-one, speed-dating style." Cocktails and hors d'oeuvres are to be served at the Post building on Oct. 28.


From left, Jonathan O'Connell, Mohana Ravindranath, Shawn Selby, Madia Brown, Amrita Jayakumar, Dan Beyers, V. Dion Haynes, J.D. Harrison, Abha Bhattarai, Steven Overly, Catherine Ho and Kathy Orton.

Short Takes

For the first time this year, Seattle and Minneapolis recognized the second Monday in October as "Indigenous People's Day," Emanuella Grinberg reported Sunday for CNN. The cities joined a growing list of jurisdictions "choosing to shift the holiday's focus from Christopher Columbus to the people he encountered in the New World and their modern-day descendants. The Seattle City Council voted last week to reinvent the holiday to celebrate 'the thriving cultures and values of Indigenous Peoples in our region.' The Minneapolis City Council approved a similar measure in April . . . "


In New York, "Last week, DNAinfo reported that NYPD officers have been shooing away black teenagers from around Park Slope," Ben Yakas reported Thursday for Gothamist. "NY1 decided to follow-up that story by going to John Jay High School and interviewing students about NYPD school safety officers, who they learned routinely drive students away from the school. They also had a run-in with these officers, who apparently don't know that the sidewalk is public property, and anyone has the right to videotape cops (so long as they're not interfering with police work). And NY1 got a broken camera for their troubles. . . ."

"The right to vote in Indian Country remains a battle between those who would shrink the number of people eligible and those who would expand political participation," Mark Trahant wrote Monday for indianz.com. Trahant also wrote, "Indian Country is subject to the same forces of push and pull, the desire by mostly Republicans to limit voting rights. After litigation and much pressure, early voting has opened up in satellite offices in Montana and South Dakota. Yet Montana has a ballot measure that would restrict voting rights by ending same day registration. . . ."


"Kill the Messenger," the story of reporter Gary Webb, whose 1996 series about a link between the Nicaraguan contras and cocaine dealing in the United States was disowned by his employer, the San Jose Mercury News, opened at a relatively few 374 theaters over the weekend and grossed $941,809, ranking 15th at the box office, Box Office Mojo reported. The Huffington Post Friday ran an excerpt from Ryan Grim's book "This Is Your Country On Drugs" on the issue of the contras, the establishment media and the cocaine trade. Reporter Robert Parry similarly weighed in on Monday. Webb committed suicide in 2004.

Kelley L. Carter of BuzzFeed (videoand photographer Monica Morgan were featured speakers at a Media Ethics conference at the University of Central Oklahoma last week. Yvette Walker of the Oklahoman was organizer and host. About 275 attended the conference, Walker told Journal-isms.


In a story about actor Andre Braugher in the Oct. 5 New York Times Magazine, writer Stephen Rodrick found this quote: "In a 1991 Chicago Tribune interview, he described the offers he received this way: 'I get a lot of [expletive] scripts, stereotypical unhuman, uncomplex, thick-lipped, long-limbed heathens. I get those, and I throw them in the garbage can. I’m a member of a very complex and richly valued race. I just don’t buy seeing lies about my race perpetuated.' . . . "

Veteran broadcaster Angela Y. Robinson, host and executive producer of "In Contact," Atlanta's only news and public affairs talk show covering topics from an African American perspective, was one of three recipients Friday of Syracuse University's George Arents Award, the University's highest alumni honor.


"Like many journalistic outlets in the financially stressful digital age, The New York Times constantly looks for ways to monetize its brand in hopes of generating new and profitable revenue streams," Lloyd Grove wrote Monday for the Daily Beast. "But an offering by 'Times Journeys' — a 'luxurious' 13-day tour through the Islamic Republic of Iran, led by veteran Times reporter Elaine Sciolino, for which participants will be charged $6,995 a head — has prompted the Gray Lady to blush in embarrassment. Today, after an inquiry from The Daily Beast about the travel promotion — which touts 'beautiful landscapes,' 'vibrant bazaars,' and 'luxurious hotels,' but makes no mention of Iran's human rights abuses, nuclear ambitions, or its U.S. government designation as a state supporter of terrorism — the Times fell on its sword and admitted that it messed up. . . ."