Unfortunately, stopping the practice of issuing credentials will not solve the problem of fair access for journalists. The police can still throw people out of press conferences and other news sites if they don't like their reporting.
Cops want press credential lawsuit dismissed
January 5, 2013
SAN DIEGO — A federal judge is considering requests by the San Diego Police and county Sheriff’s departments to dismiss a lawsuit filed by two freelance journalists who claim the agencies unfairly prevented them from gathering news.
The lawsuit was filed in September on behalf of James “J.C.” Playford, a freelance photojournalist and videographer from Ramona, and Edward Peruta, owner of Connecticut-based American News and Information Services.
In it, they claim the law enforcement agencies tried to censor Playford, who files information to American News, by threatening to arrest him, taking his cameras and denying him a press credential. They also contend that by issuing the only press credentials recognized by law enforcement throughout the county, the Police Department is unfairly designating which news services receive “the most up-to-date and reliable information.”
San Diego Police Chief Bill Landsdowne has said that the press passes allow the media to get close to crime scenes and gain access to news conferences while maintaining order and preventing other citizens from interfering with investigations.
But Lansdowne said the credentialing process could use an update. He also said the department is considering whether to get out of the credentialing business.
Last week, he said the matter is on hold pending the outcome of the lawsuit.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department announced last month it was discontinuing the issuing of credentials to members of the news media.
Department officials said in a statement that “with the advancement in digital media and the proliferation of bloggers, podcasters and freelancers, it has become challenging to determine who should receive a press pass.”