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Big Apple press-ure cooker.

NEW YORK CITY'S press corps found themselves on the defensive again recently after a third journalist was banned from covering a news event in as many weeks.

In the latest incident, a New York Daily News reporter was barred from a press briefing held by the city's new police commissioner because of perceived "negativism" in the reporter articles.

Veteran police reporter John Marzulli said that a police department official informed him that he was not welcome at a question-and-answer session with newly appointed commissioner Howard Safir. Safir apparently was angry at Marzuffi for quoting a former department official who called Safir a "light weight."

The Daily News reported the incident and criticized Safir's office in an editorial. Editor in chief Martin Dunn said, "It is not the place of a city official to dictate who covers the news. We will not be dictated to over who covers the news."

The New York Press Club took up Marzulli's cause, and in a letter to Safir "stongly condemned" the ban, and said that Safir had "violated long-established constitutional and legal principles."

The incident comes on the heels of the arrest of two New York City reporters who were trying to cover a fund-raising dinner for Gov. George Pataki. Wayne Barrett of the Village Voice and Andrea Bernstein stein of the New York Observer were arrested for trespassing at the Waldor-Soria hotel, fined $250. and given a desk appearance ticket for later this month.

The press club also protested the arrests, labeling them a "shocking abuse of power" and a "violation of freedom of the press."

Pataki's spokeswoman, Zenia Mucha, would not apologize for the incident. In an interview with the New York Times, she justified the, exclusion of the reporters to columnist Joyce Purnick, stating that private fund-raisers are not unusual and that the Voice and Observer are hardly bastions of journalism."

Commenting on the two incidents, Gabe Press man, reporter for WNBC-TV and first vice president of the press club said, "It's rather starting, these two incidents happening back-to-back. It's also dismaying that there isn't more of an outcry from journalists.

"If one reporter is barred, everyone should walk out," Pressman added. "In Newyork City, there's a long tradition of press freedom, and our rights and privileges have been hard won."

John Miller, a reporter for WNBC-TV and a former deputy commissioner for public information at the NYPD, said, "When I was in that position, we would never have barred a single reporter because of something he or she wrote that was critical or that displeased us, because that is de facto censorship, which is not the role of the government."

He added, "Also, if I was covering that for another newspaper, once they barred one of my colleagues, I would not have gone in, nor do I think that any of the reporters should have attended a briefing where one of them was singled out and excluded."

Journalist's Arm

Is Severed

HONGKONG JOURNALISTS and publishers have offered a record award of $519,000 for the capture of gangsters who sliced off the arm of a colleague.

The attack on Leung Tin-wai in his Hong Kong office was condemned by politicians and led to calls for protests for press freedom.

Senior journalists offered a $390,000 reward, and Leung's publishing company said it upped the sum of $519,000.

It was record reward figure in Hong Kong and was four times the amount offered by the police for the territory's most wanted criminal, Yip Kai Foon, who was recently captured.

The bounty was offered by journalists who formed an anti-violence group to organize protests and put pressure on the authorities to catch Leung's maimers.

Two men walked into the office of 53-year-old Leung, one of Hong Kong's best-known journalists, and severed his left forearm with two knives.

Surgeons operated for more than 18 hours to reattach Leung's arm. He is in poor condition in the hospital.

The attack came two weeks before the launch of Leung's tabloid-style magazine, Surprise Weekly.

"The attack is a challenge to the freedom of the press in the territory and a challenge to police and the whole community," said Raymond Wong, a published and spokesman for the anti-violence group.

Chief inspector Chris Richards, who heads a unit combating crime by Hong Kong's traid gangster groups, has refused to speculate on a movie. But one police source told Reuters a personal grudge could be behind the attack.

Executives of Leung's Surprise Weekly pointed to possible motives by triads. Editor in chief Yau Chin-yuen said articles in pre-publication editions might have angered the triads.

Triads are Chinese gangsters or underworld figures active in gambling, postitution and drug trafficking.

"Some articles are inside stories about organized groups," the South China Morning Post quoted Yau as saying.

Leung was a founding editor of Next Magazine, whose publisher, clothing king Jimmy Lai, has been subject to attacks attributed to triad gangs during the past two year.
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Title Annotation:some New York City journalists having problems covering news events in the city
Author:Giobbe, Dorothy
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Date:May 25, 1996
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