22 September 2012

A propaganda video: photography taking

Susan Brannon
22 September 2012

A video to tell us what to look for in suspicious situations for terrorism implementing fear.  People taking photographs which is often used to prepare for a terrorist attack.  Telling you to make the call.  Don't rely on others to take action.  The video is put out by the department of homeland security.

These things are concerning and leads towards increasing fear in just about everything and everyone.

Taking images?  really?  You can clearly see in the background the suspicious person taking images.

"Every U.S. resident should be aware of the threat of terrorism and how to handle this threat. Such knowledge is all the more essential when you live in a major metropolitan area. Large, heavily populated urban centers all over the world have long been the favored targets of terrorists. If you see suspicious behavior, Make the Call."

21 September 2012

Photojournalists as Terrorists in the U.S.A.

Susan Brannon
24 September 2012

There has been a lot of talk lately regarding our freedom of expression and speech in the world of photojournalism.  Last year when the Occupy movement started many journalists were reported as being arrested, some have been arrested four times.  It is our job as photojournalists to tell the story and it our job as journalists to let the world know and judge for themselves what perspective they want to take.

It is becoming more and more difficult to tell the news through the world of images.  The police hit you on the head with their batons, they block your lens they tell you to go away or they simply drag you into the back of a van for arrest.  They do not like images being taken of some of the abuses that occurs during the protests because it is proof of their uncivil behavior.  Are we as journalists supposed to tell lies through our lens?  I don't think so and that is not what journalism is all about.  Or, shall I say that is not what we are supposed to stand for ethically.

The last thing that I want to do when catching "action" and news is to ask the policemen to stand and shake the hands of a protester with a smile on his face for the camera.  That is not the reality that I hear and read about.

For me as a photojournalist, this is scary and very much so.  Not in terms of my own physical safety but in terms of our country becoming fascist in the direction of Hitler or Mussolini or even the current Berlusconi who controls almost all of the Italian media.  This is the police state that people are talking about or have been talking about in the years past.  This is not a conspiracy, this is a reality. Our country was founded on these simple freedoms, we even had street corners where people could stand and voice their opinions to those who were willing to listen.

This is a larger part of the anti-terrorist concept taken to the extreme. Democracy is denied these days.  We need to be careful of "fear", because when there is "fear" then we change our free ways.  After 9/11 it gave an excuse to change the laws.  Photographer Chris Miller who has been arrested three times said, "They’re recording us, they don’t want us recording them,” said Miller. “They really want to put a scare factor into us,” he added.

These photographers even ask if they are using their images to send to the Al Qaeda. "NPPA  responds to the LAPD special order that equates photography with criminal activity" reports that "The LAPD recently issued guidelines instructing their officers on “behavior/activity that may reveal a nexus to foreign or domestic terrorism.” Such behavior listed includes:

“Taking pictures or videos of facilities/buildings, infrastructures, or protected sites in a manner that would arouse suspicion in a reasonable person.  Examples include taking pictures or videos of ingress/egress, delivery locations, personnel performing security functions (e.g., patrol, badge/vehicle checking), security-related equipment (e.g., perimeter fencing, security cameras), etc”

The NPPA responded, "“Photography is protected by the First Amendment, subject only to reasonable time, place and manner restrictions. Unfortunately the reliance on policies such as the LAPD’s as the basis for law enforcement officers to question, detain and interfere with lawful activities by photographers under the guise of preventing terrorist activities has become a daily occurrence.”

On the "Lens Blog with the NY Times" in their article titled, "Criminalizing Photography" Through an interview with Mickey H. Osterreicher with the NPPA he says, "It’s not just news photographers who should be concerned with this. I think every citizen should be concerned. Tourists taking pictures are being told by police, security guards and sometimes other citizens, “Sorry, you can’t take a picture here.” When asked why, they say, “Well, don’t you remember 9/11?”

I remember it quite well, but what does that have do to with taking a picture in public? It seems like the war on terrorism has somehow morphed into an assault on photography."

The advise that I would give is to be polite, ask for permission to cross that "crime line" get to know your local police officers and don't argue. Just walk away and try to see if you can get that "breaking story" from a different angle.

Today there is a bombardment with citizen journalists, using their camera phones as the source.  In Libya or Syria the camera phone is useful to getting the news out and even then they are risking their lives.  The problem is that today, the photojournalists are also risking their lives but in a different way, they risk getting arrested or even beaten up.

Every day a photojournalist is getting arrested in America and that is something that all of us should be having a problem with.  Photographers today are being charged with disorderly conduct, trespassing and the obstruction of governmental administration for doing their job.  Most of the time, the charges get dropped but in the meantime the photographer did not get the news.

The point is that if you are on public property, you have every right to take a picture.  Of course there are differences between taking photographs and the use of the photograph.  Unfortunately, it is the press that is not having as much "free will" with their image taking than the normal John Doe who is photographing a local fire.  It is the press that will be told no and the John Doe can continue. Even then, it is the police in many cities that want to decide what images the photographer can use.  They want to serve and protect by deciding what images to use.  It is not their job and as Osterreicher said in his interview, "Just as a news photographer's job isn't to direct traffic, or collect evidence at a scene…"

Legally, here are some of the sited cases:

Channel 10, Inc v. Gunnarson, 337 F. Supp. 634 (D. Minn. 1972)
"… employees of the news media have a right to be in public places and on public property to gather information, photographically or otherwise."

Schnell v. City of Chi., 407 F.2d 1084, 1085 (7th Cir. 1969)
(reversing dismissal for failure to state a claim of suit claiming police interference with news reporters and photographers’ “constitutional right to gather and report news, and to photograph news events” under the First Amendment (internal quotation mark omitted)

Cape Publications, Inc. v. Bridges, 423 So.2d 426, Fla.App. 5 Dist.,1982.
"the right of privacy does not necessarily protect a person against the publication of his name or photograph in connection with the dissemination of legitimate news
items or other matters of public interest."

"...where one becomes an actor in an occurrence of public interest, it is not an invasion of her right to privacy to publish her photograph with an account of such occurrence. Just because the story and the photograph may be embarrassing or distressful to the plaintiff does not mean the newspaper cannot publish what is otherwise newsworthy."