Monday, February 24, 2014

Judge rejects bid to bar photograph

A Marin County judge has turned down the request of a suspected bank robber who wanted a court order barring the Marin Independent Journal from publishing photographs of him.

According to the IJ, the judge earlier in the case denied the paper’s request to photograph Christopher Jay Wootton in the courtroom. Woottoon’s lawyer, public defender Michael Coffino, said publishing such a photograph could taint witnesses and prospective jurors, thereby depriving Wootton of his right to a fair trial.

However, the IJ’s Frankie Frost got pictures of Woottoon as he was being wheeled out of court in a wheelchair on Dec. 19.

Woottoon had been in the wheelchair at the time because of injuries he suffered after being shot by a deputy sheriff following a bank robbery.

Woottoon’s lawyer also argued that allowing the photograph to be published was a form of discrimination against the disabled. Normally inmates are escorted between the jail and court through interior passageways that aren’t accessible to news photographers. But because of a design quirk at the Civic Center, Woottoon had to be transported in a public area, where he was photographed.

The newspaper’s attorney, Duffy Carolan, opposed the request for an injunction, saying it amounted to prior restraint and the case did not come close to justifying the suppression of an American newspaper.

Judge James Chou denied Woottoon’s motion, saying his previous order only pertained to courtroom photography and didn’t apply to the courthouse’s exterior. He said the newspaper had lawfully obtained the photographs in a public place.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Robbers take news photographer's cameras

The Chronicle reports that another member of the media has been robbed at gunpoint in Oakland today (Feb. 18).

    Veteran Bay Area News Group photojournalist D. Ross Cameron had finished taking pictures of a lead-abatement project at a home near the corner of 29th and West streets in West Oakland when he was accosted by two men about 11:30 a.m. 
    The men stole two cameras and a lens from him at gunpoint before jumping into a car, described as a Lexus or Jaguar. 
    “I’m OK,” Cameron said as he sat in the front seat of an Oakland police SUV giving a statement to Officer Michael Morse. “I’m angry — and embarrassed.” 
    Cameron has been an East Bay photojournalist for 24 years.
The robbery is the latest incident in which a journalist has been robbed or attacked in Oakland, including one incident in 2012 where a KPIX camera was taken during a live shot. In response, TV stations have hired security guards to escort news crews.

Monday, February 17, 2014

SPJ honors high school journalists who debunked false claims in Audrie Pott case

Cristina Curcelli, 17, Samuel Liu, 18, and
Sabrina Chen, journalists with the Saratoga
High School Falcon newspaper.
The Society of Professional Journalists has honored students at the Saratoga High School whose reporting disputed reports that semi-nude photos of Audrie Pott had gone “viral” before her suicide, according to KCBS and the Mercury News.

When the teen’s sexual assault case first broke in 2012, local and national media reported that photos of the half-naked, 15-year-old girl had been posted on Facebook, which contributed to her suicide.

The student journalists at Saratoga High’s Falcon newspaper decided to investigate those claims.

They interviewed Audrey’s friends on the condition of anonymity and found that only 10 people had seen the pictures and that they were never posted on social media.

The staff worked around the clock through that first weekend and into spring break, posting stories online with headlines saying "only 10 students" saw the photos, and "Pott case twisted to fit anti-cyberbullying agenda."

SPJ honored the teenage reporters for both their reporting and for protecting their sources by defying a court subpoena from a lawyer in the case by invoking California’s Shield Law. (Photo credit: Karl Mondon, Bay Area News Group)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Accused bank robber's lawyer wants to stop paper from printing defendant's photo

Bank robbery suspect Christopher Jay Wootton
leaves court in a wheelchair on Dec. 19. This is
one of the photos his lawyer does't want published.
The lawyer for an alleged serial bank robber has asked a judge to stop the Marin Independent Journal from publishing photographs of the defendant taken outside the courtroom.

Public defender Michael Coffino says publishing the photos, which have already been printed in the IJ and distributed by the AP, would jeopardize his client's ability to get an unbiased jury. And since the defendant, Christopher Jay Wootton, is now in a wheelchair after he was shot by cops, Coffino says the photographs represent discrimination against Wootton's disability.

On Jan. 29, Coffino filed a motion to enjoin the IJ and other media from publishing photos of Coffino being transported to and from court. A hearing is set for Feb. 21 before Marin County Superior Court Judge James Chou.

Attorney Duffy Carolan, a First Amendment expert representing the IJ, said both the federal and state constitutions provide strong protections against prior restraint of the media by the government, and that Wootton's case does not come close to overcoming them. Here's the IJ's report on the controversy. (Photo credit: Frankie Frost, Marin IJ)

Monday, February 10, 2014

KRON to sell building, move in with KGO-TV

KRON's home at 1001 Van Ness Ave.
KRON’s owner, Media General, announced today that it is listing its 1001 Van Ness Ave. building and moving in with Channel 7 at the ABC Broadcast Center on Front Street.

“KRON will remain an independent station with its own staff and separate broadcast facilities. No staffing changes are expected as a result of the move, which is expected to be completed in the next six to nine months,” a statement from Media General said.

The statement doesn’t say whether the two channels would enter into a shared services agreement. KGO already produces newscasts for KOFY. But media blogger Rich Lieberman, who broke the story about the move, said he expects a consolidation to occur. Lieberman goes on to talk about the idea of Gary Radnich appearing on KGO.

The new space will provide a separate studio that Media General CEO George Mahoney called “a significant upgrade from our current studio,” and said the setup will better foster staffer collaboration.

The Van Ness building was designed by Gardner A. Dailey, a leading Bay Area architect from the 1920s to 1960s. It was completed in 1967. Prior to 1967, KRON operated out of the basement of the Chronicle building at Fifth and Mission. At the time KRON and the Chronicle had the same owners.

Young Broadcasting bought the four-story structure on Van Ness in 2000 for $8.4 million, or $185 a square foot.

Lieberman said that the building has multiple mortgages.

Time to enter the Press Club's contest

It's that time of year to submit entries for the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club's annual Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards. Here's a link to download the form that gives the rules and entry information (PDF) (Word doc). The deadline to enter is Friday, Feb. 28, 2014.

The entry fees are $15 members, $55 non-members, $30 same company with 25 or more, per entry.

However, your first entry is FREE with a 2014 Paid Membership. Each additional entry only $15. Here's the link for a membership form.

Entries can be uploaded, so contestants don't have to submit paper entries. As in previous years, the entries will be judged by press clubs in other cities. No members of the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club will participate in the judging.

Awards will be presented at a banquet in June.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Dana King to run for Oakland City Council

The Chronicle's Matier & Ross reported this morning that former KPIX anchor Dana King has taken out papers to run for Oakland City Council this November. They reported:
    "I'd been working on issues in the neighborhood for a while," King, 53, said Tuesday. "When I heard Pat was retiring, it just came in a flash: 'I can do this.' " 
    Since leaving KPIX-TV in 2012, King has moved from a houseboat in Sausalito to a shared artists building in Oakland's San Antonio neighborhood. 
    She has been pursuing her sculpture art, teaching journalism at Dominican University in San Rafael and volunteering with the Alameda County Probation Department. 
    Like a lot of Oakland neighborhoods, the San Antonio area has its problems: crime, graffiti, illegal dumping and the like. 
    But at the same time, King said, "it is about to explode with development in the next five years. You can't stop it, but you can argue that it be equitable so that the people here don't get pushed out."
(Photo credit: Russell Yip, Chronicle)

Monday, February 3, 2014

2 convicted in murder of photographer Ray Fluker

The AP reports that an Alameda County jury today (Feb. 3) convicted two men in the shooting death of an ex-Oakland Tribune freelance photographer who was hit by a stray bullet.

Jurors found 37-year-old Donel Posten and 38-year-old Joe McNeely both guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Lionel "Ray" Fluker.

Poston and McNeely were also found guilty of attempted murder and being a felon in possession of a handgun. Each could receive life in prison at their sentencing on March 21.

The 54-year-old Fluker was a passerby caught in the felons' crossfire when he was struck while driving home in East Oakland in April 5, 2013. Investigators determined the bullet that killed Fluker came from the gun of McNeely, who was known as Anthony Lister at the time of his arrest.

Fluker took freelance photos for the Tribune from 1995 to 2007.