TIME TO PRESS THE
ISSUE ON CREDENTIALS
Why does the NYPD control the press credentials
that reporters and editors need to cover news
across the city?
We were left to ask that question after seeing
report after report last week of journalists in New
York City being harassed, intimidated and even arrested
for covering the George Floyd protests past the
The executive order that Mayor Bill de Blasio signed
on June 1 establishing the curfew included protections
for essential workers such as health care workers, food
delivery workers and, yes, even reporters and editors.
It’s hard to report on the news if you’re not allowed out
of your home to cover it. But over and over again last
week, we saw police officers completely ignore or not
understand the order covering essential workers. Our
staff wasn’t immune to the problems.
Reporter Ben Verde, while out covering a protest in
Brooklyn after curfew on June 4, was approached by a
ranking officer who threatened to take his “f---ing press
pass” if he didn’t move along.
De Blasio responded that police intimidation of essential
workers shouldn’t have happened, and promised
that the NYPD wouldn’t be allowed to do it again.
He promised change, but didn’t go into very many specifics
Meanwhile, City Comptroller Scott Stringer came
up with an idea: Remove the NYPD from the press credential
process itself, and transfer that authority to the
mayor’s office instead to keep journalists free from
It’s a good start, but even that plan has inherent
flaws. What if, someday, New York City elects a mayor
that’s as hostile to the press as President Trump, who
could then wield that authority to punish media outlets
or reporters they do not like?
We believe that the credential powers ought to go to
a city agency that operates apolitically, such as the Department
of Investigation or the Department of Emergency
Management. Both agencies focus on good government
rather than politics.
The press card qualifications that the NYPD maintains
are also antiquated and cumbersome, with rigid
requirements based mainly on a reporter’s portfolio.
They must change as well.
Certainly, this issue is minor in comparison to the
long-standing racial injustice our city is fighting to
change. As we work to bend the arc of justice in favor of
a more equal city for all, we must also ensure that journalists
are able to cover that effort free of retribution.
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TIMESLEDGER | 14 QNS.COM | JUNE 12-18, 2020
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The NYPD should no longer be in charge of issuing press credentials in New York City. Photo via Getty Images