Monday, September 29, 2014

Jury rejects reporter's claim that he was targeted by BART deputy police chief

BCN reports that a federal jury in San Francisco on Monday rejected a journalist's claim that he was unfairly arrested during a 2011 protest at a BART station in retaliation for articles critical of the transit agency. 

David Morse, a member of the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center, sued now-retired BART Deputy Police Chief Dan Hartwig in 2012 to challenge his arrest during a protest at the Powell Street station in San Francisco on Sept. 8, 2011.

Hartwig, the supervising officer during the incident, ordered Morse to be arrested for allegedly blocking a fare gate in violation of a state law that prohibits interference with the safe and efficient operation of a railroad. Morse had written a series of articles criticizing BART police in the previous two-and-a-half years, beginning at the time of the fatal shooting of Oscar Grant III by then-BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle at an Oakland station on New Year's Day in 2009.

He claimed he was unconstitutionally targeted for arrest because he had exercised his right of free speech as a journalist. Hartwig, who was represented in the case by BART lawyers, did not dispute that Morse is a journalist, but claimed he was breaking the law by blocking the fare gate along with other protesters.

After four days of trial and one day of deliberation, a seven-member civil jury in the court of U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley unanimously returned a verdict exonerating Hartwig.

Morse's lawyer, Dan Siegel, said, "We're disappointed," but said no decision has been made on whether Morse will appeal.

BART attorney Dale Allen said, "There was no evidence of any animosity going from Deputy Chief Hartwig toward David Morse."

The demonstration was aimed at protesting Grant's death, the fatal shooting of Charles Hill by a BART officer in San Francisco in 2011, and BART's decision to cut off cellphone service during previous demonstrations.

After being arrested, Morse was handcuffed, detained at a police substation for more than two hours and then cited and released. A judge dismissed charges against him nine months later.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Press Club will host boot camp for high school journalists on Sept. 26.

The San Francisco Peninsula Press Club's eighth annual High School Journalism Boot Camp is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 26, 2014, at The College of San Mateo. This event is intended to help high school students sharpen their journalistic skills. There will be speakers, workshops, panels and critiques of school papers. For more information, download the flyer and registration form.

San Carlos may ban home delivery of unsolicited newspapers

The San Mateo County community of San Carlos is looking at banning newspaper companies from throwing newspapers on the driveways of homes if the resident hasn't subscribed. The Daily News reports that the City Council has asked its attorney to draft an ordinance that would ban unwanted newspapers and commercial solicitations from landing on residents' property and the sidewalks in front.

The Daily News says the action was prompted by Councilman Cameron Johnson, who said residents frequently told him they don't want the free San Francisco Examiner dumped on their driveways.

"It's a nuisance, it does signal to people that no one is home ... and I think the waste issue is very important," Johnson said.

Johnson said he called the Examiner requesting that it stop delivering papers to his house. After a few weeks however, the newspapers started showing up again.

"I can make it so people can't call me at home and I can make it so people can't send me email, but there is no way to stop the San Francisco Examiner from throwing their newspaper on my lawn," Johnson said.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Rent hike forces Bay City News to move from SF to Oakland

The Examiner reports today that the Bay City News Service is leaving its Market Street home in San Francisco for slightly smaller digs in Oakland due to a rent hike.

Tech businesses are bidding up the price of office space in San Francisco, and BCN wasn't able to find a place that fit in its budget.

"Our landlord here has proposed almost doubling our rent," Wayne Futak, BCN's general manager, told the Examiner. "We don't plan to change our coverage at all by being in Oakland, just fiscally it's less expensive."

Dan McMenamin, BCN's managing editor, is quoted as saying that the move won't diminish the wire service's coverage.

"We are a regional news service, so we didn't see a need to stay in San Francisco," he said, adding later, "I don't see it as a huge deal."

BCN provides news stories and calendar items to about 100 newspapers, radio stations, television newsrooms and websites.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Reporter attacked while another is robbed

In the past two days, one local TV news reporter was attacked while covering a story while another was robbed in a news van.

On Sunday afternoon, KTVU reporter Cara Liu was assaulted by a woman in Oakland while covering a murder story at a flea market near the Coliseum, according to media blogger Rich Lieberman. Lieberman quotes a KTVU source as saying the Liu was shaken and unnerved, and that her injury was not serious.

 This morning at about 5, KRON reporter Jackie Sissel was robbed at gunpoint while sitting in a news van on the Interstate 280 overpass near 18th and Pennsylvania Avenue. He was preparing for a story on recent work that was completed on the freeway when two men with bandannas hiding their faces got out of a car, opened the van doors and put a gun to Sissel's head, SFGate reported.

The assailants stole a laptop computer, a wallet and a camera tripod before fleeing in their car. No arrests have been made.

 The incidents are the latest robberies of news crews over the past couple of years. The TV stations have hired security guards to accompany news crews.