Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Student Journalist Battles NYPD over Press Pass

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Student Journalist Battles NYPD over Press Pass

Article excerpt

Cops refuse to explain denial of credentials to Columbia Daily Spectator scribe

A college newspaper editor is testing whether college journalists are entitled to press credentials from municipal agencies.

Daniel C. Sorid, 20, a features editor who also covers breaking news at the Columbia Daily Spectator, a daily at Columbia University in New York City, applied for press credentials from the New York City Police Department but was turned down.

But Sorid isn't taking no for an answer. He covers crime and mayhem just like reporters from the city's commercial newspapers and TV stations, he reasons, so he ought to have the same rights as them. He has covered the case of a murdered Columbia law student and two suicides, but covering emergency news is harder without press credentials, he said.

The 122-year-old Spectator, a student-run publication, has a circulation of roughly 10,000, five days a week. It receives no money from the school and has no faculty advisor.

For five months, Sorid and his media supporters have asked police public information officials why Sorid was rejected and asserted the rights of student journalists. "There has been nothing in writing at all from the police department," said Sorid, a senior economics major, despite more than 10 letters and help from the from Society of Professional Journalists, National Press Club and Student Press Law Center.

The issue boils down to whether college journalists are entitled to press credentials, the same as reporters for commercial papers.

Deputy Commissioner of Public Information Marilyn Mode said department lawyers told her not to comment. She refused to elaborate on the city's policy for credentialing the campus press.

Sorid said: Police officials "told me the policy is that they don't give press credentials to reporters with student newspapers. . . . Then I was told later that it wasn't that I was a student journalist, but because I didn't qualify under the definition of working press." He said he works 30 hours a week and is paid a monthly stipend.

Since he's gone this far, Sorid says he's "willing to go as far as it needs to go to get the issue settled once and for all. …

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