Dave Sandersfeld

Dayville, United States

Dave Sandersfeld start his career in 1970 as a US Forest Service “Wilderness Ranger” in the Frank Church/River of No Return...


Interior v. freedom of the press
Filed under: Public Lands, NewsBiz Buzz — Jodi Peterson at 10:57 am on Thursday, November 29, 2007
The Department of Interior recently proposed a new rule that would make it harder for journalists to report on actions affecting millions of acres of public land. Since 2000, Interior has been collecting fees for commercial movie-making in national parks and refuges, but it had exempted news-gathering.

Now, the Department wants to extend its permit and fee requirements to all commercial filming and recording — except for what it defines as “breaking” or “spot” news. This change will seriously limit a reporter’s ability to, say, take photographs to illustrate a news story, or record an interview with a park official.

About 20 journalism associations wrote to the Department last month to oppose the proposed rule. From the Society of Professional Journalists web site:

While the current proposal is not a drastic shift in policy, it attempts to compromise the work of journalists because it allows representatives from the National Park Service, the Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management to determine what is considered newsworthy, and who is considered a journalist. …

“Government agencies and bureaucrats should not be allowed to decide for the public what is and is not worthy of news coverage,” (SPJ President Clint) Brewer added. “What kind of message does it send that the First Amendment rights are being impeded on land owned by the public?”

Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.V., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, responded to journalists’ concerns by scheduling a hearing for Dec. 12. In a press release, Rahall said, “An environment that allows an open and free press to flourish is essential in maintaining the democratic foundations of this country. Unfortunately, this Administration has gained a well-earned reputation for leaking, distorting, and stonewalling, which undermines the ability of the press to serve as a valuable check on the government. The news media’s concerns over this proposed rule deserve an open forum.”

In the meantime, you may want to let your own representative know that such restrictions on the press don’t serve the public.

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