Tuesday, March 08, 2011

SF Appeal: Police Press Passes
Spark MSM v Blogger Spat

At the San Francisco Appeal the editor Eve Batey and her reporter Chris Roberts sure know a good story idea when they see it at my blog, as they did recently in my post about the SF Police Department not renewing my press press for 2011. Nice of Batey and Roberts to poke into the story behind my hassles, and bring the press pass problems to a larger audience. From the Appeal's story:

Among the reforms former San Francisco police Chief George Gascón sought to institute in a kinder, gentler SFPD was a new policy on press passes. Under Gascón, the SFPD's Media Relations Unit began issuing the pink SFPD press passes to "non-traditional" forms of media, such as bloggers and other non-mainstream media types.

All was well in the media world, until when it wasn't. It appears that at some point in the last year, a mainstream news outlet complained to the SFPD of "abuse" of the now-prevalent passes (one of which, for what it's worth, this reporter has always wanted but never had, even when he was with a somewhat-MSM outlet), which are now not being renewed for at least eight online-only outlets, Michael Petrelis first reported.

For those of us searching for an LA-borne conspiracy beginning with Acting Chief Jeff Godown, ex of the LAPD, it's a dead end. There's been no change in SFPD policy for issuing press passes, as department spokesman Lt. Troy Dangerfield explained to the Appeal on Monday. "We don't have a problem with non traditional media," Dangerfield said, though he declined to say exactly who was losing their passes. "The policy just hasn't been enforced, because we really haven't had time to." ...

So all of a sudden the police department has the resources to deal with enforcing their policy on media cards, and it just so happens at a time when Gascon, who was not much-liked in the department, for things like giving the passes to bloggers?

And the rank-and-file cops and their union have made their views well known about how they want to revert to the old, arrogant ways of running department since Gascon became the district attorney? But Dangerfield says their pass policy is not really changing? He may have a point, especially in light of this info:

Exactly how many passes have been revoked or not renewed this year Dangerfield would not say. He did add that a "TV news or radio news" outlet did complain to SFPD about "abuse" of the press passes, forwarding reports of people being "more disruptive than reporting the story" at press events.

Who would do such a thing? Dangerfield did not say, nor did he have any details on the nature of the disruption, but according to an e-mail shared with The Appeal, it was "KGO."

Huh? There were too many passes for KGO's liking? Bloggers killed the radio and television stars? A representative for the radio side of KGO said she asked all of the reporters at the station about this; nobody there knew anything about it, she said. ...

How typical of the SFPD to raise an argument about supposed disruptions, but then offer no proof about them. Another problem here is with the local ABC/Disney-owned KGO television outlet having such influence over the cops that they can bring about hassles for bloggers and others not part of the mainstream media.

From a lot of perspectives, it is so wrong to allow the police department total control of the press passes in this city. We should not have the policy about the passes fluctuating every time there's a change at the top, and there must be intense public review by the police commission and other stakeholders about insuring the needs of non-traditional and MSM folks doing reporting are met.

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