ProPublica Responds To Its Recent Issues With Police

Regular readers will likely be familiar with the recent story we featured on ProPublica freelance photographer Lance Rosenfeld’s detainment by BP and Texas police after snapping photos of a BP refinery in Texas City.

Since news of Rosenfeld’s experience broke, ProPublica’s managing editor, Stephen Engelberg, has been finding parallels between his own confrontation with military police in Bosnia and Rosenfeld’s detainment. He writes:

There is, of course, good reason to keep the press away from potentially dangerous pollution sites. And there’s at least an equally valid public policy rationale for keeping an eye on people who are photographing critical infrastructure like a refinery. But the public and the press have good reason to be suspicious when a major corporation and the government try to curtail photography or reporters’ firsthand access… And it’s even harder to understand what circumstances justify allowing the police to review a journalist’s work before publication.

You can read his full essay here. We think it’s definitely worth your time and brings up some very timely questions about the rights journalists have when faced with sensitive information and over-zealous security personnel.

Also worth noting is a comment left on ProPublica’s site:

The idea here is not that photographers are losing their right to take pictures in public places; instead, the point is that journalists provide a check on the power of government by exposing the government’s actions to the citizens. When the government intimidates journalists or attempts to prevent them from doing their job, our entire democracy suffers.