The Kind of Journalist Authorities Don’t Mind Not Suppressing

When the authorities are going out of their way to keep your journalistic colleagues from witnessing what they’re up to, yet they reach out to give a ringside seat–what does that say about your reporting?

That’s the question raised by a blog post by Yves Smith (Naked Captialism, 11/16/11) that makes the case that the NYPD offered special access to journalists from the New York Times, tipping them off ahead of time to the force’s secret mobilization at South Street Seaport prior to the pre-dawn November 15 raid.

This New York Times photograph appears to be taken under the FDR Drive, which is on the opposite side of the Financial District from Liberty Plaza, so unless the photographer just happened to be in the right place at the right middle-of-the-night time, it would seem likely that the paper did get an official tip off.

So if you were excluding virtually all journalists from your suppression of a political protest, how would you choose who you let see it? Well, the news article that Smith cites, along with the photography, as suggestive of before-the-fact access was co-written by Joseph Goldstein–whose work we looked at in a FAIR Blog post (9/28/11) called “Did the NYT Coverage of Occupy Wall Street Just Get WORSE?”

Journalists often pride themselves on “access”–even though, more often than not, it’s exclusion that’s the true badge of honor.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.