Note: KNX reporter and SPJ board member Claudia Peschiutta sent out email below following a meeting May 24 at Los Angeles City Hall regarding media access during City Council meetings.
We met with Councilmembers Perry, Garcetti and Zine for about an hour. This was an ON-the-record meeting. We made clear our opposition to the new rules. Garcetti insisted the rules are not aimed at the media. We talked about how the sergeants at arms, one in particular, can and have used the new rules to make it more difficult for us to do jobs. Garcetti said they will talk to the sergeants.
We told council leaders we want them to do away with the rules and said journalists can simply agree to not block the aisles and, if it’s going to be noisy, move interviews into the back hallways or media room (as has been our practice).
We also brought up problems with media access at committee meetings, which Garcetti said will be addressed.
Garcetti said his staff will come up with changes and send out a draft letter for us to review within the next week or so.
Some councilmembers apparently find a tap on the shoulder from reporters very disruptive during meetings. We said we don’t want a rule in place that prevents us from approaching councilmembers directly. Each person has their own style and journalists can make an effort to respect that.
I think the meeting was helpful and am cautiously optimistic council leaders will take steps to ease restrictions. Garcetti made it clear he wants some rules in place but said they will work with journalists to come up with something that works for all of us. We will continue to push for as much as media access as possible.
I’ve attached three bites from the meeting. Michael Linder may be able to post the audio of the entire meeting on his blog – linder.com
Thank you! – Claudia Peschiutta