News Archive

Bob Brandon Critical In Denver Hospital

Television photojournalist Bob Brandon is in stable but critical condition in a Denver, CO, trauma hospital after he was found on the floor of his home yesterday. Sharon Levy Freed reports that Brandon may have collapsed as long ago as Saturday, but that he was unable to reach a telephone to summon help.

Freed reports in an eMail that Keith Singer, a video editor who often works with Brandon, was worried when he was unable to contact Brandon so he went to his house on Tuesday and made the discovery. Brandon was immediately transported to a South Denver trauma center where tonight he's a patient in intensive care but stable and improving, according to an ICU nurse.

On Wednesday afternoon Freed reported in an eMail to Brandon's friends and coworkers that "Bob is better than he was yesterday, but still critical, very ill, and the future is uncertain." Freed says Brandon can't receive visitors or telephone calls at this time.

Brandon is known as one of the leading television photojournalists in the broadcast industry and has twice been named the NPPA Television News Photographer of the Year, in 1976 and again in 1980 while he was with KPRC-TV in Houston, TX. He's a co-recipient of a national Emmy for his work on CBS's 48 Hours as well as having two national Emmy nominations. His work includes stories for CBS News, 60 Minutes, NBC News, The Today Show, Dateline, ABC Evening News, Prime Time Live, and 20/20.

Brandon is a faculty member for the annual NPPA Television NewsVideo Workshop, and he was president of Helical Post, a video digital post-production facility in Denver.

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Epilogue: A Player Dies

In the August issue of News Photographer magazine, photojournalist Jenna Isaacson of the Columbia Daily Tribunewrote about her experience photographing University of Missouri redshirt freshman football player Aaron O’Neal, 19, when he collapsed during a summer strength and conditioning workout in July and then hours later died at the University of Missouri in Columbia. The workout, while strenuous, was not held in extreme heat, according to the report, and the player appeared to be in good physical condition, although observers saw that he struggled more and more as the one-hour workout progressed.

Today in Columbia the Boone County medical examiner, Valerie Rao, told members of the football team that O'Neal died as the result of viral meningitis, the Tribune reported, and O'Neal's father, Lonnie O'Neal, today filed a $300,000 wrongful death lawsuit. The suit names members of MU's athletic training staff, the strength and conditioning staff, athletic director Mike Alden, head football coach Gary Pinkel, and director of football operations Mark Alnutt, but not the university. By Missouri law, the university as a state institution has "sovereign immunity." The Tribune reports that the suit alleges that O'Neal died as a result of "neglect" by university staff, and that "university officials were callous and fell far short of any reasonable standard."

Viral meningitis is an infection of the spinal fluid around the spinal cord and the fluid that surrounds the brain. The Tribune reports that Rao said in a press conference today that O'Neal's brain had swollen as a result of the infection, and the swelling caused the young player to stop breathing. She also told reporters that it is unclear whether participating in the voluntary summer workout contributed to O'Neal's death or not. The Tribune quotes her as saying, "I don't think it helped him."

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Boston Photojournalist Dean L. Gaskill, 59

Television photojournalist and director of photography Dean L. Gaskill, 59, of Newton, MA, died August 19th, The Boston Globe reports. Gaskill was a co-founder of VideoLink.TV, a broadcast and production and television transmission company, and the president and founder of DGA Productions in Watertown, MA.

Gaskill was award-winning visual journalist who shot major news, sports, and commercial television productions over the past 40 years after serving in the U.S. Army as a first lieutenant and serving in Germany. He was nationally known for his television expertise, and for his photography documenting the Great Wall of China, to cooking in Julia Child's kitchen, to covering Boston sports championships.

Gaskill is survived by his wife, Sylvia Smith, and a son, Justin Smith Gaskill. A private funeral service is planned for the immediate family. A public memorial service and celebration of Gaskill's life will be held on Monday, August 29, at 4:00 at Trinity Church in Copley Square, 206 Clarendon Street, Boston MA. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions may be made to Dana Farber Cancer Institute - Patient and Family Assistance, Dept. of Care Coordinator, 44 Binney Street, Boston, MA, 02115. A memory page is available for more details at www.dean.skyrocketproductions.com.

“The NPPA was part of Dean's roots,” Mark Bell told News Photographer magazine. “Many years ago Dean asked me if I would give him a tape of the NPPA Workshop opening because he felt his father, Arthur, was in the part of the opening where it shows military folks filming a simulated arrival of a dignitary.”

“This is not an ordinary person in the memories of many, as Dean, a large person, was more than gentle, sensitive and kind. He once said to me that the ‘new’ news had gotten so competitive that he found it necessary to apologize to his fellow photojournalists before a ‘clustered’ event, for what he was going to do with them in order to gain the great pictures he was capable and accomplished at gathering. Competent? Many will always say he was the best.”

Gaskill founded VideoLink with Doug Weisman in the fall of 1992 in response to the networks' need for a new source of production and transmission facilities in New England, as well as live shot services. VideoLink grew from a single location to facilities in Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. As a photographer and director, Gaskill worked with a wide range of clients including Oprah Winfrey, famous chef Julia Child, basketball legend Larry Bird, puppeteer Jim Henson, Pope John Paul II, along with Fortune 500 companies and NASA. Programs he worked on include An American Moment with James Earl Jones, ESPN, A&E, The Museum of Science, The House of Blues, and Cheers.

Friends and associates can sign on online guestbook here. The DGA Productions Web page is online at www.dgaproductions.com and Gaskill's television demo real is online as streaming video.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions may be made to Dana Farber Cancer Institute - Patient and Family Assistance, Dept. of Care Coordinator, 44 Binney Street, Boston, MA, 02115.

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Kentucky Case Raises Need For Press Shield Law

By Mickey H. Osterreicher, Esq.

EAST AMHERST, NY – A recent incident in Kentucky involving a television station, a defendant in a shooting, and a District Court Judge illustrates the need for a standardized press shield law. Reports from the local media in Paducah, KY, indicate that the judge fined WPSD-TV $10,000 per day for not turning over unedited tapes (of interviews with witnesses to a shooting) to the defendant’s attorney. Within hours attorneys for the station were able to obtain a temporary restraining order from a higher court delaying the imposition of the fine and possible jail time for a vice president of the station, who was responsible for deciding to withhold the tapes.

At issue is whether or not the station is legally required to hand over these tapes, bringing the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial in direct conflict with the station’s First Amendment right to gather news. The Kentucky Revised Statute (Section 421.100) entitled Newspaper, radio or television broadcasting station personnel need not disclose source of information states in pertinent part that “no person shall be compelled to disclose in any legal proceeding or trial before any court, or before any grand or petit jury … the source of any information procured or obtained by him, and published in a newspaper or by a radio or television broadcasting station by which he is engaged or employed, or with which he is connected.”

In a previous case the Kentucky Court of Appeals held that the statute did not permit a reporter to refuse to testify about events he had observed personally, including the identities of those persons he had observed. That issue was presented to the U.S. Supreme Court in the seminal case of Branzburg v. Hayes, 408 US 665 (1972), where the high court held that “requiring newsmen to appear and testify before state or federal grand juries does not abridge the freedom of speech and press guaranteed by the First Amendment; and that a newsman's agreement to conceal criminal conduct of his news sources, or evidence thereof, does not give rise to any constitutional testimonial privilege with respect thereto.”

All of this raises the question – should there be a federal shield law? This is a topic that has been in the news recently in cases involving reporters for Time magazine and The New York Times, who are being held in contempt as part of a federal investigation into the disclosure of a CIA officer’s identity. In another recent case, a Rhode Island television reporter was held in criminal contempt in federal court and sentenced to home confinement because he would not reveal the identity of the person who gave him a tape in a bribery case. These high profile cases, along with those of approximately 30 other journalists facing federal prosecution for refusing to testify in federal courts, have led legislators in both the House and Senate to introduce the Free Flow of Information Act.

Currently 31 states have various statutes that protect reporters from being compelled to testify and disclose sources of information in court, but there is no federal law. The Act would create a federal journalists’ qualified privilege for “a covered person” defined as “(A) an entity that disseminates information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic, or other means and that (i) publishes a newspaper, book, magazine, or other periodical; (ii) operates a radio or television broadcast station (or network of such stations), cable system, or satellite carrier, or a channel or programming service for any such station, network, system, or carrier; or (iii) operates a news agency or wire service; (B) a parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of such an entity; or (C) an employee, contractor, or other person who gathers, edits, photographs, records, prepares, or disseminates news or information for such an entity.” For purposes of the Act, the term “document” is defined as “writings and recordings that consist of letters, words, or numbers, or their equivalent, set down by handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, photographing, magnetic impulse, mechanical or electronic recording, or other form of data compilation” and photographs that include “still photographs, X-ray films, video tapes, and motion pictures” as defined in the Federal Rules of Evidence (Rule 1001).

The bill, introduced in February 2005, states that “no Federal entity may compel a covered person to testify or produce any document in any proceeding or in connection with any issue arising under Federal law unless a court determines by clear and convincing evidence, after providing notice and an opportunity to be heard to the covered person (1) that the entity has unsuccessfully attempted to obtain such testimony or document from all persons from which such testimony or document could reasonably be obtained other than a covered person; and (2) that (A) in a criminal investigation or prosecution, based on information obtained from a person other than a covered person (i) there are reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has occurred; and (ii) the testimony or document sought is essential to the investigation, prosecution, or defense; or (B) in a matter other than a criminal investigation or prosecution, based on information obtained from a person other than a covered person, the testimony or document sought is essential to a dispositive issue of substantial importance to that matter.” With regard to limitations on the content of the information, the bill states that “the content of any testimony or document that is compelled under subsection (a) shall, to the extent possible (1) be limited to the purpose of verifying published information or describing any surrounding circumstances relevant to the accuracy of such published information; and (2) be narrowly tailored in subject matter and period of time covered.”

Just this week former Senator Bob Dole endorsed the bill, writing on the op-ed page of The New York Times: “As someone with a long record of government service, I must admit that I did not always appreciate the inquisitive nature of the press. But I do understand that the purpose of a reporter's privilege is not to somehow elevate journalists above other segments of society. Instead, it is designed to help guarantee that the public continues to be well informed." Last week the American Bar Association House voted to support a federal reporters’ shield law. In a statement, ABA president, Michael S. Greco, said: "Our action today acknowledges the important role of journalists and the media in providing the public with significant information to ensure an informed democracy, and reporters’ need to be able to protect sources in order to get that information." But the enactment of such a law is not without its drawbacks. Writing in The Kansas City Star, columnist E. Thomas McClanahan said: “A federal shield law would invite Congress to begin parsing the First Amendment. Lawmakers would inevitably decide where key lines should be drawn, such as who should be included in a shield law. Such a debate ought to make First Amendment supporters more than queasy."

Applying the proposed shield law to the current Kentucky case would be a matter of striking the proper balance between the defendant’s right to a fair trial, the public’s interest in the efficient administration of justice, and the television station’s First Amendment protection in gathering the news. Once the station asserts its qualified privilege, the court must first decide if it is an entity covered by the statute. With that prong of the test satisfied the court should look to see if the “document” being sought is protected, and since recorded videotape falls under the definition of both “document” and “photograph” the court can proceed with the substantive part of its analysis.

As the defense attorney and quite possibly the prosecutor are seeking to obtain the unedited interviews that the station did with witnesses to an alleged crime, they must prove by “clear and convincing evidence” that they have been “unsuccessful” in their attempts to obtain interviews with those witnesses on their own. This matter being a criminal investigation as well as a criminal prosecution (and it having been established, from a person other than the television station, that a crime has occurred), the burden now shifts to either the prosecution or the defense (or both) to prove by “clear and convincing evidence” that the interviews on the unedited tapes are “essential to the investigation.” It is also their burden to prove under the same evidentiary standard that the need for the interviews on tape is for “the purpose of verifying broadcast information or describing any surrounding circumstances relevant to the accuracy of such broadcast information; and be narrowly tailored in subject matter and period of time covered.”

Obviously, these incidents need to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and it would be very helpful to have a consistent standard of review such as the one in the proposed Free Flow of Information Act. Therefore, it is critical to remember Justice Louis Powell, Jr.’s, concurrence in Branzburg that “without some protection for seeking out the news, freedom of the press could be eviscerated.”

Mickey H. Osterreicher has been an NPPA member since 1972 and is on the Advocacy Committee. He has been a photojournalist for over 30 years in Buffalo, NY, where he now practices law. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Editor & Publisher's 2005 Newspaper Photos Of The Year Contest Deadline Announced

The deadline for entering Editor & Publisher's 2005 Newspaper Photos of the Year contest is September 16, 2005. Photojournalists can submit images that have been published in a newspaper or on a newspaper's Web site since September 1, 2004.

Last year's grand prize winner was NPPA member Benjamin Krain of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for the photographs in a special section the newspaper published of Krain's work documenting poverty and violence in Afghanistan. A gallery of past contest winners, including Krain's work, is online here.

Images can be entered in the categories of News (Spot/General), Features, Sports, and Multiple Images/Photo Essays. Subcategories will be based on the publication's circulation figures. Jay DeFoore, the new Online Editor at Editor & Publisher who joined the magazine recently from its sister publication, Photo District News, announced that this year there is a new contest category sponsored by Nikon. "Local Heros" is a category supported by Nikon and it was created to recognize outstanding photographs of any individual who has accomplished something noteworthy or of merit in their community.

DeFoore says that an entry form can be downloaded here from the contest's Web site at www.editorandpublisher.com. Specific questions can be addressed to Daniela DiMaggio at [email protected] or Lynne Bosnack [email protected]

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Agency VII Announces New York City Seminar In October

NEW YORK, NY - The photojournalists of the Agency VII will put on another seminar this year on Saturday and Sunday, October 15 and 16, 2005, at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City, VII's managing director Frank Evers announced. Sponsors for the event include Canon, Lexar, Lowepro, and The New School.

"Spaces are booking very quickly, and we want the professionals and students to hear about this as soon as possible," Evers said. "This year we're featuring practical breakout sessions covering topics like digital workflow, personal projects, assignments, and fine art." AlexandraBoulat, Lauren Greenfield, Ron Haviv, Antonin Kratochvil, Joachim Ladefoged, Christopher Morris, James Nachtwey, JohnStanmeyer, and Gary Knight will participate in panel discussions, the breakout sessions, individual presentations, and portfolio reviews.

Registration is required and it's $75 USD for students and $175 USD for professionals. The photographers' presentations will be at the school's Tishman Auditorium, Building A, at 66 West 12th Street, and the day ends with a book signing. The breakout sessions will be at the school's amphitheaters at 66 West 12th Street, the Parsons Aronson Gallery and Lecture Hall at 66 5th Avenue, the Swayduck Building F at 65 5th Avenue, and at the Theresa Lang Student Center, Building 1, at 55 West 13th Street.

The agency's Web site has online registration and a map of the session locations, and also a list that recommends five possible hotels for lodging. For more information please see www.viiphoto.com/seminar.

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Online Statement In Support Of Judith Miller

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press urges journalists to sign an online statement in support of Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who has been jailed for refusing to disclose sources. Miller was jailed for refusing to comply with a subpoena and to reveal a confidential source to a Special Counsel grand jury investigating the disclosure of an undercover CIA officer's name in Robert Novak's column of July 2003. She could remain in jail until she elects to testify, which she has vowed not to do, or until the grand jury expires in late October.

The National Press Photographers Association has joined with the Newspaper Association of America and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in reiterating their call for a new national shield law to protect journalists' interests, and urges NPPA members to sign this online statement in support of Miller and supporting the defense of journalists' rights as well as the public's right to know about its government.

 

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Tony Berardi, 99, Famed Chicago Photojournalist

Retired photojournalist Tony Berardi, 99, who as a young man was one of the first photographers on the scene to document the infamous 1929 St. Valentine's Day gangland murders, died July 13 in an assisted-living facility in Kankakee, IL, according to his son, Tony Berardi Jr., retired chief photographer for the Chicago Tribune.

Berardi had been a photographer for The Chicago Evening American at the time and he worked for that newspaper for many years before retiring in 1971 from the Chicago Today newspaper. In 1923 at the age of 17 he was one of the youngest newspaper photographers working, according to his obituary in the Chicago Tribune, as well as taking the first picture of Al Capone that the gangster agreed to pose for.

In addition to his son he is survived by two daughters, Carol Dalissandro and Tricia Wille, and a stepdaughter, Patricia Dvorin. Tribune writer John McCormick wrote a detailed history of Berardi's career as a photographer documenting Chicago's news.

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Virginia Photojournalists Save Two From Flooding

RICHMOND, VA – NPPA member and television photojournalist Dwight Nixon of WWBT-TV NBC-12 in Richmond, VA, is being credited with leading the rescue of two women from a car that was trapped in rising flood waters near Petersburg, VA, where flash flooding followed on the heels of tropical storm Cindy making landfall and moving inland.

WWBT-TV reports that Nixon was covering the storm’s aftermath when he noticed two women in a disabled car and floodwater was rising around the vehicle. Nixon and another man, bystander Allen Marshall, used one of Nixon’s long extension cords as a rope to brave into the rising water and rescue the women. Television photojournalist Jon Burkett from WTVR-TV CBS 6 used Nixon’s camera during the rescue and captured the entire event on tape.

“Jon Burkett deserves as much credit as I do,” Nixon wrote to News Photographer magazine today. “But the real hero was the by-stander, Mr. Marshall, who put himself at the most risk.”

In a story in today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch by staff writer Andrew Price, the saga began when Nixon and Burkett, each on assignment for their stations, spotted the women trapped in a car in high water. Nixon used a long, heavy-duty extension cord wrapped around himself as an anchor while Marshall took the other end of the cord and waded into the water, pulling one of the women to safety. In the next few minutes police arrived and an officer rescued the other woman from the car. One woman was described as being in her thirties or forties, and the other was described as elderly.

Nixon told the Times-Dispatch that Burkett’s camera stopped working in the wet conditions, so he handed over his camera so that Burkett could keep shooting during the rescue. The two stations shared the tape for their broadcasts.

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Seattle Photojournalist Jimi Lott, 52, Found Dead

SEATTLE, WA – James G. "Jimi" Lott, 52, a well-known award-winning photojournalist and former staff photographer for The Seattle Times from 1984 through 2004, has been found dead at a motel in Wenatchee, WA. Seattle Times managing editor David Boardman informed the staff Wednesday of Lott's death, and the Chelan County coroner told the Times that Lott's death has been ruled a suicide.

"Jimi was a marvelously creative photojournalist who saw the world with childlike curiosity. For two decades, our newspaper, and our readers, were the beneficiaries," Boardman wrote in an announcement to Lott's former coworkers. "Jimi was one of the first photographers I worked with, when we were both pups at the Skagit Valley Herald in Mount Vernon. From the start, I was taken most with his ability to put the subjects of our stories at ease."

Lott is survived by his former wife, Kathleen Lott, and a son, Joshua Lott, as well as his stepfather, WalterHoskinson. No public services are planned at this time.

Lott was known for his compassionate picture stories of those in trouble - the down-and-out, the mentally ill, poor and homeless people - and staff members remember him for his compassion and empathy. In the 1980s a series of stories about problems with the state's mental health system, illustrated with Lott's photographs, won the 1989 Cowles Cup honor.

“Jimi was energized by photography. He loved his work and had deep compassion for his subjects,” Cole Porter told News Photographermagazine. Porter, now with Getty Images, was the director of photography at The Seattle Times for many of the years Lott was a staff photojournalist. “Although he had unique empathy for the less fortunate he had the ability to make readers laugh with his visual humor. Jimi never embraced things in moderation; he went full speed. He always worried about others first, even when he had little to share." Porter also remembers that Lott sometimes gave money or toys to needy people he encountered, and that he also rebuilt computers to give to those in need. "If more people had Jimi's compassion for their neighbor this would be a different world.”

Lott was also one of the photographers on the investigative team coverage of safety problems with Boeing 737 airliner rudders that won the newspaper a Pulitzer Prize in 1997. He won multiple awards in the 45th annual Pictures of the Year competition in 1988 at the University of Missouri, including top honors in news picture stories for a special section on the homeless.

In 1984, Lott was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in spot news photography when he was a staff photographer at The Spokesman-Review for a picture that showed a young boy being comforted by a firefighter.

Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Jerry Gay had already left his staff position at The Seattle Times when he met Lott. “Jimi was a friend, and a fellow journalist on the road. I was continually impressed with Jimi’s outgoing friendliness and his fresh approach to his subjects. You could see pure vitality in his everyday news photographs.”

“Sometimes in the life of genius there is a troublesome inner struggle that’s trying to determine the soul’s real identity and true self worth,” Gay said. “God bless you, Jimi, on your journey, and continue making unprecedented pictures revealing your deepest essence for all to see.”

Lott attended San Diego City College and Southwest Oregon Community College, the Times reports, and started his photography career in 1972 at The World in Coos Bay, OR, and then at the Bay Reporter. His career included being director of photography at the Skagit ValleyHerald and the Yakima Herald-Republic before joining The Spokesman-Review in 1982. In 1984 he moved to The Seattle Times.

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