Mexico: Photographer murdered, news organizations set reporting guidelines

30 03 2011

A photojournalist for La Prensa, in Monclova was kidnapped and murdered in Monterrey last week, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The organization reports that Luis Emanuel Ruiz Carrillo was abducted on Thursday night along with two others, and found dead with a gunshot wound to the head on Friday.

As the world is focused on the uprisings in the Arab World, let’s not forget that one of the most dangerous places for journalists is next door, for some of us, mere hours away. Our brave brethren in Mexico deserve our respect and support.

According to the Associated Press, some of Mexico’s largest news outlets recently agreed to a set of drug-war reporting guidelines, agreeing to ignore propaganda messages from drug gangs, which are sometimes left near the bodies of victims. In my opinion, the U.S. media should follow suit.



The photo editors of social networking

19 07 2010

There is an interesting story in today’s New York Times about a growing profession of screeners whose job it is to look at social networking images and flag them for inappropriate content- pornography, violence and other disturbing images. Some of the work is outsourced, but some is done in-house, depending on the company needing the review.

Like journalists, many of these individuals suffer psychological consequences from constantly seeing disturbing images. Oddly the article doesn’t mention anything about how they handle referring illegal activity to law enforcement. But it is fascinating to realize that in a world where content is provided by the masses, there is still a level of gate-keeping.

Arrest in leak of the video of the killing of photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen

11 06 2010

-Note: this is a cross-post with my NPPA Advocacy Blog. Please visit that as well.-
Several months ago, Wikileaks released a horrifying video of the 2007 killing by the U.S. Military, of Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and his and driver, Saeed Chmagh, 40.

Earlier this month, the federal government arrested an army intelligence analyst, 22-year-old Bradley Manning, who is suspected of leaking the video. Adding to the drama are reports that Manning also leaked hundreds of thousands of other classified documents, and cables to Wikileaks, and now the Pentagon is searching for the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, fearing that the organization is preparing to release the information. Interestingly, Assange is scheduled to speak on a panel discussion at the Invetigative Reporters and Editors conference this afternoon, the epicenter of journalism that relies on confidential sourcing.

An article in today’s New York Times outlines how the government is taking a hard stand against leaks.

In the midst of a national crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, and corporate misinformation campaigns by BP which are being supported by the federal government’s cooperation in blocking access, all of this is important to photojournalists.

(UPDATE: Assange has canceled his appearance at the IRE conference, according to The Daily Beast)

Heartbreaking Video of the Killing of a Photographer released via Wikileaks

6 04 2010

This recently released video of the 2007 killing of photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, and his driver, in Baghdad by U.S. troops is one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever seen.

It is incredibly disturbing, so in case you don’t want to watch the actual video, here is a link to the article by the New York Times, which does a very good job of describing the important parts of the video.

Reuters had attempted to get the video for years through an FOI request, but it was an anonymous whistle-blower leak via wikileaks that led the the release.

In addition to the devastating implications of the video, and the pain of the families, there are several important subtexts to this video release.

1) It shows the importance of anonymity of sources. I’m sure this doesn’t make the federal government more excited about a federal shield law, but for citizens, and for the fallen, it couldn’t be any more important than this. This video was “classified” and not released after years of official FOI requests. But as you can see, there is nothing in the video that reveals intelligence. In fact, it simply reveals the horrors of war, and raises outrage. The government shouldn’t be able to hide behind the principle of “government secrets,” in an effort to hide things that are only sensitive because it makes them look bad. Those within the government who realize this should be protected.

2) For those who glorify or romanticize the idea of being a war photographer, this also shows how dangerous it really is. Every photojournalism student should be required to watch this.

Let me repeat… if you are a photojournalism student, you need to watch this video. If you are an American you should be outraged.

How to be a safe and lawful Bluebonnet-er

28 03 2010

Shooting bluebonnets is one of the classic spring pastimes for photographers in Texas. For those of us who don’t shoot flowers for a living (and who does, really) it is a great way to rediscover the joy of just taking pictures for an afternoon.

But as with all things, it is important to keep it safe. I was happy to find this article (thanks to Helen Montoya Henrichs) that clarifies a few things- namely, that it is not illegal to pick the bluebonnets (but it is totally uncool to drive your car over them). Oh, yeah, and, no trespassing.

Today is Vest-Day

24 11 2008

Just a reminder. Today is the day you need to start wearing your safety vests while shooting pictures on “federal-aid” roadways (basically any big road).

Read More Here

New Federal Law Will Require Safety Apparel for Photographers on Roadways

27 10 2008


  • A new law requires anyone, including journalists, working on any federally funded highway to wear high visibility safety apparel while on the road.
  • Many state and local highways and roadways receive federal funds.
  • High visibility safety gear includes vests and jackets, which meet the “ANSI 107-2004 class II,” standard.
  • While there is no federal penalty or fine for non-adherence – breaking the rule could affect photographer’s liability if there is an accident.
  • Non-adherence may also increase the risk of being injured by a vehicle.
  • Photographers should be aware of states which may have local ordinances that could include fines or other penalties.

A new law goes into effect on November 24, 2008, which will require all workers on federal highways to wear high visibility safety apparel (23 C.F.R. § 634.3).

While the law does not specifically list members of the media, it includes “people on foot whose duties place them within the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway, such as…responders to incidents within the highway right-of-way.”

The Department of Transportation has repeatedly stated that it considers the media to be included under this law. During the legislative comment period the DOT received requests to expand the definition to include media workers. The Federal Highway Administration responded that the term “responders to incidents” includes media representatives.

There is no specific federal fine for individuals who fail to comply. However, compliance is advisable for several other reasons. Hari Kalla of the Department of Transportation says that lack of compliance by agencies and states will directly affect funding of road projects. Because of this, states will likely enact follow-up legislation to encourage compliance. It is those rules may involve fines or other penalties for photographers who fail to comply with the rules.

Additionally, persons not wearing appropriate safety gear may bear increased liability if injured in an accident. By not wearing the gear, photographers who are injured in an accident may be considered partially at fault under the concept of contributory negligence (violated a law creates a legal presumption of negligence). If all other workers at a scene are wearing high-visibility clothing, a photographer who is not will not only be the least visible person at the scene and will therefore be at a greater risk of being hit by a vehicle but may also subject themselves to being barred from stopping on the roadway because of said non-compliance.

A “federal-aid highway” is defined as any road that has used federal funds in its construction and/or maintenance. State departments of transportation usually have maps available that indicate which highways are federal aid highways. According to Kalla, state and county roads are usually federally funded while local and rural roads usually are not.

In order for garments to qualify as high visibility safety apparel they must meet a standard known as “ANSI 107-2004 class II.” A Google search for “high-visibility garment” or “ANSI 107-2004” results in a wide variety of available outlets that include vests and jackets. Compliant garments should have a tag that reads “ANSI 107-2004 class II.”

While the use of reflective tape on regular clothing does not comply with the standard, compliant vests can typically be purchased for under $20.