Sunday, June 25, 2006

Kudos and a Question

Good Evening, Friends,

It's been awhile since we've shown the spotlight on our friends and co-workers, so I wanted to take a moment to recognize the folks who've done nice work lately before getting into a question for you guys.

So, first off, it looks like the paper took home a few nice prizes from the Press Club awards last night, which you can read about here: Our members didn't end up with any of the big awards, but talented folks like Brian Harr, Tom Gapen, Mariel Garza, Patrick O'Connor and David Crane all earned well-deserved recognition. Kudos to all of them and the others who garnered nominations.

UPDATED: My apologizes for not recognizing Jon Gerung, whose stunning animated presentations have been a welcome presence to Working on his own time, often with his own equipment, he's made some amazing stuff, ranging from James Dean to Superman, all worth checking out.

And outside of that, there's been a plethora of good stuff to read, see and hear lately from our members. I'm sure I'm going to forget a bunch of deserving people, but here are a few that jump out at the moment... First off, the peerless Mr. Bartholomew had a touching piece yesterday on the anniversary of the Sylmar tunnel collapse, one of those ones I wish I'd have written but don't think I would have done it justice in the way he did. Also, Alex had a nice one on the possible sale of Six Flags, made especially striking by the fact that he's only a week into his new gig up in Santa Clarita.

Photowise, David took a nice trip down the heart of Americana with me, displayed in today's Route 66 story (his greatest trick, however, was putting up with me and my hot car the entire day) and Hans is gonna show you some mindblowing shots of Mexican wrestling in Monday's paper.

And outside of the print edition, has taken a dramatic turn for the better since our alumnus member Josh has taken over. He and his crew have given it more relevant content, kept it fresh throughout the day and found a way to make themselves part of the reporting process, rather than just presenters. To that end, Steve Rosenberg's got a hilarious new blog, with far more information than I'd ever want to know about kids' bathroom habits, and Val put together a nifty audio presentation the other day. It's cool to see that part of the operation coming into its own, rather than just being an alternative version of the print product.

But that's enough back slapping for one night... now onto the question part. Those of you who are active in the Press Photographers Association of Greater Los Angeles or SPJ-LA may have heard of the current controversy that's come up about LAPD press credentials and I wanted to get your input. LAPD media relations, apparently flooded with requests from blogs and nontraditional media (such as entertainment shows) for press passes, is looking to establish a new system for issuing credentials. Before they do so, they're reaching out to various journalistic groups to gather some suggestions about how to handle issuing the cards. This wouldn't effect us immediately, because everyone who currently holds a pass would be grandfathered into whatever new rules they come up with.

In my steward capacity (and also, to a lesser extent, through my position as an SPJ associate board member) I've gotten involved with some of the groups who're looking to adopt a position to take back to the cops. The initial suggestion from the LAPD went something along these lines: a two-tiered system where people who regularly cover crime would have essentially a police lines pass, while the other people would get an official card that would not get them across the line. The other, related suggestion, is that news orgs would be issued some sort of a better access pass that they'd keep at the office and hand out to whomever they wanted to assign to a big news event.

Personally, I think both ideas are lousy. With the first, anyone who doesn't regularly cover the cops but happens to witness breaking news would be turned away because they didn't have the proper credential. I'm not a cops guy, myself, but there've certainly been plenty of times I've been asked to cover something breaking because I happened to live nearby or had some connection to the story. Next time there's a disaster, does this mean that everyone who's normally a GA reporter or on a different beat should just stay back at the office while the cops folks do all the work? And for the second proposal, that might work with a 400mm lens or an Academy Awards credential, I'd hate to see the day where a reporter missed a story because they had to leave a scene, drive back to the office to get the supercredential, then return in time to watch the cops clean up and go home.

But it won't do us any good to just point fingers and say the idea's a bad one-- hopefully we, and the other groups involved, will be able to come up with different suggestions that they can use so they'll come up with a policy that works well for everyone. So, with that in mind, anyone got any good ideas? It'll be awhile before this gets sorted out, I'm sure, but I'd be interested in hearing what you all have to say. Thanks.

And that oughtta do it for now-- thanks for your help and time, as always. Let's hang out again soon...



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