Posts Tagged 'Tennessee'

“Nazi Cops” Harassed Tornado Journalists

In a recent memo to staff, Chattanooga Times Free Press Executive Editor J. Todd Foster says law enforcement were less than welcoming to journalists covering the recent tornado. Foster wrote that Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd, Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond and County Emergency Services Director Don Allen all have been sent a letter by the paper’s attorney informing them of First Amendment violations.

As the reports:

The April 29 Foster memo says, “I can’t say enough about the extraordinary journalism this newsroom has practiced the past two days. Contributions came from all over the room and every section. Some of our journalists had to dodge downed power lines, frog-strangling rains and Nazi cops to gather the news. I’ve heard praise from local readers and from journalists across the country.

“Attached are letters written by our attorney, Bud Jackson, to police officials who threatened two of our journalists with arrest. Keep up the great work and know this organization has your back.”

Both sides play an important role in a disaster. Of course the first responders need to do their jobs, but media can bring the story to a wide audience — and that in turn brings attention, supplies, donations, help, support. Would they prefer it’s ignored and no one knows the extent of the damage? I don’t get bullying the media in a situation like this where it so obviously can make a difference.


AP Reporter Slammed for Collapsed Pol Shots

Photo by Erik Schelzig

UPDATE: Tennessee Report is reporting that Speaker Kent Williams will not support the measure to strip Erik Schelzig of his press credentials and Rep. Joe Towns has withdrawn it. Williams said, “He was just doing his job.” 

When Tennessee House Speaker Kent Williams collapsed on the floor of the general assembly on Thursday, AP reporter Erik Schelzig did his job and took photos of the incident with his cell phone. But that irked other members of the assembly who called it “despicable” and “distasteful” behavior — because they apparently felt that a journalist shouldn’t cover breaking news but should instead…I don’t know, say a prayer?

Well, yeah. As the Bristol Herald Courier reported, while Williams was getting medical attention the other state senators actually gathered for an “impromptu prayer.”

Some members even tried to prevent Schelzig from doing his job by blocking his shots. Then some state troopers came to threaten him with removal if he didn’t stop taking photos. Even though Schelzig agreed to leave, at least one legislator wants to strip him of his press credentials for the rest of the  legislative session.

As the Tennessee/Kentucky/Mississippi AP bureau chief said in a statement:

“…Erik Schelzig was doing his job covering breaking news at the General Assembly when House Speaker Kent Williams collapsed. The legislative sessions are open to the public, and members of the news media routinely record what happens there in words, photographs, audio and video. Though we believe Schelzig had the right to continue his reporting, he complied immediately with officials’ order to leave the chamber.”

Really — what a bunch of self-important blowhards. These people are public figures in a public building. Are they really that naive? I can’t stand this self-righteous faux dignity that comes from politicians, as if they should only be covered for certain things at certain times but not for others. You are a public servant. Deal with it.

And quit with the praying on taxpayers’ time.

Article from the Knoxville News Sentinel

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