April 10th, 2013

Suspect Arrested in Shooting of Oakland Photographer

A suspect has been charged with murder in the killing of a freelance photographer who was shot April 6 while driving home in Oakland, California, the Oakland Tribune reports. Lionel Fluker, a former contributor to the Oakland Tribune, was killed by a stray bullet fired in a fist fight that escalated into a gun fight, according to the Alamada Country District Attorney’s office. The suspect, who was arraigned April 9, was also charged with possession of a gun by a felon, carrying a concealed weapon and carrying a loaded firearm.

A memorial service for Fluker will be held on April 13, the NPPA reports. (Details on location is available on the NPPA site.)

As PDN Pulse recently noted, several photographers and TV reporters have been robbed at gunpoint in Oakland this year.

Related article
Photojournalists Stripped of Gear at Gunpoint in Oakland

March 26th, 2013

Short Poverty Film Wins Top Multimedia Prize at BOP Competition

Photographer and director Alan Spearman of the Memphis Commercial Appeal has won the Best Use of Multimedia prize at the NPPA Best of Photojournalism contest, judges announced yesterday.

Spearman won the prize for his short film called As I Am, a rich, poetic film about the hard edges of poverty, from the viewpoint of an insider struggling to pull himself out. Spearman entered the film in the NPPA contest under the title, “Memphis Poverty: What Obama Didn’t See.”

The subject of the film, Christopher Dean, had a moment in the YouTube spotlight in 2011 for his charming introduction of Barack Obama at a high school graduation, where Obama spoke.  Community leaders in Memphis rallied around Dean afterwards to help him pay for college. During the summer of 2012, Dean was an intern at the Memphis Commercial Appeal, where he worked with Spearman on the “As I Am” film.

“Memphis Poverty masterfully tells an important American story in a non-traditional way, bypassing the literal translation of poverty to strike the soul,” Best of Photojournalism jurors said in an announcement posted on the NPPA web site. “The artful blend of documentary moments, poetry, music, cinematic shooting and editing craftsmanship moves our art of storytelling forward in a dramatic way.”

The jury, which included Nancy Andrews, Zach Wise, and Jonathan Quilter, gave special recognition to “Dying for Relief,” a multimedia story about the overuse and abuse of prescription drugs, produced by Liz O. Baylen of the Los Angeles Times.

Spearman also won the first place prize in the Feature Multimedia category for the “As I Am” project. First place winners in other BOP multimedia categories included Albert Lee of the Los Angeles Times, who won both the Multimedia Package category and Visual Column/Recurring Series category for his photo and video blog called Framework; MediaStorm in the Documentary Multimedia story category for “A Shadow Remains” (an extension of Philip Toledano’s “Days with My Father” project); Chris Zuppa of the Tampa Bay Times in the New Multimedia/48 Hours category for  “RNC 2012, Inside and Out;” Misha Domozhilov for “Motoball Monsters” in the Sports Multimedia Story category;  and Reuters for “The Wider Image” in the Tablet/Mobile Delivery Project category.

Related:
Picture Story: A Guided Tour of Poverty in Memphis (PDN subscription required)

January 31st, 2013

NPPA Honors Storm, Estrin, Harrity and Dimick

The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) has awarded its annual Clifton C. Edom Award to Brian Storm, founder of multimedia production company MediaStorm, the photojournalists’ organization announced today. The award, named for the first head of the photojournalism program at the University of Missouri at Columbia and the founder of the awards now known as Pictures of the Year International, recognizes an individual who inspires and motivates members of the photojournalism community.

NPPA also announced several other awards.

The Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award was awarded to two recipients:  photographer Charles W. “Chick” Harrity, a former contributor to US News & World Report, and Dennis Dimick, executive environment editor and interim director of photography at National Geographic Magazine.

Jim Estrin, senior photographer at The New York Times and editor of the LENS blog will receive the Kenneth P. McLaughlin Award of Merit, given to those who render “continuing outstanding service in the interests of news photography.” John Harrington, photographer and writer on business issues, received the J. Winton Lemen Fellowship Award for service in the interests of press photography.

A full list of winners and honors can be found on the website NPPA.org.

August 14th, 2012

Police Intimidation Watch: NYPD Returns Cameras to Times Freelancer

The New York City police department has returned camera gear belonging to a freelance photographer who was arrested August 4 after refusing to stop photographing police activity on a public street.

Photographer Robert Stolarik got his camera equipment back on August 10, the National Press Photographers Association reported on its Web site. Stolarik told NPPA, “The next things for me will be getting the charges dropped and having my credentials returned to me.”

Stolarik was charged with obstruction and resisting arrest after police told him to stop taking pictures at the scene of a street altercation. Solarik was on assignment at time for The New York Times. He identified himself to police as a journalist, and continued taking pictures.

He was then arrested and held overnight. NPPA and The New York Times protested Stolarik’s arrest as an act of intimidation–and a violation of his civil rights.

According to NPPA, New York Times attorney George Freeman is calling on the NYPD to “objectively investigate” Stolarik’s arrest. “We are fully confident that if they look at the facts, they will find that the officers who blocked, intimidated and assaulted Mr. Stolarik acted inappropriately and violated NYPD guidelines,” Freeman told NPPA.

Related story:
Police Intimidation Watch: NYPD Arrests Times Freelancer

April 11th, 2012

Police Intimidation Watch: Photog Sues a Long Island Police Department

Freelance videographer Philip Datz has sued Suffolk County (New York) and one of its police officers in federal court for violation of his constitutional rights over an encounter last July that ended in Datz’s arrest. He is seeking unspecified damages, and a court order to bar the Suffolk County police from interfering with journalists.

Datz, who contributes to Stringer News Service to provide footage for local TV news broadcasts, was shooting the scene of an arrest of a criminal suspect on a public street in Bohemia, New York last July 29 when Sgt. Michael Milton approached Datz and repeatedly ordered him to “go away.” The scene took place in public view. Datz asked where he could continue filming, but Milton said “no place” and told Datz he would “get locked up” if he didn’t leave.

After Datz moved farther down the street and continued recording, Milton arrested him, allegedly injuring Datz’s shoulder in the process. According to the lawsuit, police handcuffed Datz to a desk at a police station, and held him for two hours before charging him with “obstructing governmental administration.”

Prosecutors dismissed the charges in August, Datz says in the lawsuit.

Datz recorded the encounter with Sgt. Milton on this video, which Datz says is unedited:

In his civil claim, filed today in US District Court in Manhattan, Datz claims that his arrest and detention “was not a rogue event. Suffolk County police officers have a longstanding and ongoing pattern of unlawfully interfering with the recording of police activity conducted in public view.” Datz cites more than a dozen other past incidents where police allegedly prevented him from making video recordings of police activity in public.

Datz alleges that Sergeant Milton violated his First Amendment right to record official police activity in a public location, his Fourth Amendment right protecting him from unlawful search and seizure of his property (namely his video recorder), and his Fourteenth Amendment protection against unlawful arrest.

Datz is asking the court to declare that his constitutional rights were, in fact, violated by Milton and Suffolk County. He is also compensatory and punitive damages, a court order barring the county from interfering with the rights of its citizens and press, and a court order to compel the police department to implement a First Amendment training policy for its police officers.

Datz filed suit with the support of the New York Civil Liberties Union and the National Press Photographers Association.

A spokesperson for the Suffolk County police department declined to comment about the lawsuit, citing a department policy against commenting on pending litigation.

March 21st, 2012

Police Intimidation Watch: Journalists Detained for Being Present at a Chicago News Event

Chicago police detained two journalists outside a hospital as they waited on a public sidewalk to interview the family of a young shooting victim, according to the Reporter’s Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP).

In this video of the incident, the arresting officer says, “Your First Amendment rights can be terminated if you create a scene. Your First Amendment rights have limitations.” The journalists asked how they were creating a scene, and the arresting officer responded, “Your presence is creating a scene.”


(Note: NBC, which owns this video, may run a short advertisement before it plays)

The journalists, a radio reporter and TV cameraman, were held in a police vehicle and released after ten minutes without charges, according to RCFP.

National Press Photographers Association attorney Mickey Osterreicher, who has been kept busy lately reading the US Constitution to police departments all over the country, sent a letter of protest to the Chicago Superintendent of Police. Osterreicher wrote that it isn’t the duty of police officers “to decide what is appropriate news coverage of any story.

“It is apparent that the two journalists were not charged because…there was no criminal trespass and your officers’ overreaction by detaining them in a catch-and-release manner only served to prevent them from carrying out their professional and lawful function,” Osterreicher wrote. “It was nothing less than a blatant disregard of the First and Fourth Amendment.” (The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unlawful search and seizure by police.)