New York, NY – April 27, 2015
A City Council bill that would allow members of the media to park press vehicles at their assignments is being introduced by City Council Transportation Committee Chairman Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan). A press conference will be held on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday, April 28, from 11:00 a.m. to noon to announce this important legislation.
News media, including photographers, reporters and broadcasters, is the only commercial enterprise in New York City that has no legal ability to park its vehicles while doing business. The Bloomberg administration took away, without explanation or hearing, the right of the press to park legally at their assignments six years ago.
Currently, a member of the press may only park in designated “NYP” zones, some of which are almost always taken by city vehicles or those with bogus placards and fraudulent out-of-state vanity plates (only New York, Connecticut and New Jersey issue NYP to accredited members of the New York press corps).
While the NYPD and its traffic agents have, to their credit, used discretion in writing summonses for press vehicles on major assignments, this is not always the case. While broadcasters and some media outlets have paid these large parking summonses (a drain on already-stretched budgets), which sometimes include towing fees, freelancers suffer the most as they sometimes live paycheck-to-paycheck.
“It’s great that City Councilman Rodriguez has responded to our concerns to restore our ability to park at our assignments, “ said Bruce Cotler, President of the New York Press Photographers Association (NYPPA), an organization currently celebrating its 100th anniversary. “It’s a long time coming and it will make our news gathering jobs much easier.”
“’Joe the Plumber’ has more rights to park in this city than does a member of the press, and we are not only doing business in this, the media capital of the world, but we are also the only constitutionally protected business,” said Todd Maisel, Vice President of the NYPPA. “Right now, the only places we can park legally are in NYP zones, and they are frequently taken by those who have no business parking there. It is a rare occurrence when the NYPD takes action against them. Further, it is also rare when we have an assignment at an NYP location and so we need to be able to park our vehicles, which are our mobile offices with sometimes hundreds of pounds of expensive equipment, without the worry that we may get a large summons or even towed,” he continued.
For more than 50 years, members of the press were given the privilege to park at news events. A photographer didn’t have to worry that he or she would go to a shooting, fire or a major press conference and come back to find his or her car ticketed or towed. Now, every press person must worry about his or her vehicle, many of them personally owned cars and trucks, which are vital to their operations. Recently, some members of the media with NYP license plates have, puzzlingly, received summonses while legally parked in NYP zones.
While the media has enjoyed a good relationship with the NYPD, it occasionally appears that some members of the department have taken their frustrations out on the media by ticketing press vehicles, thereby hindering their First Amendment freedom and ability to have proper access to news events.
Under the stewardship of President Cotler, the New York Press Photographers Association is leading this effort to regain parking for the media. Government Relations Committee Chair Robert Roth is heading negotiations for the pending legislation. “The news business should have at least the same privileges as every other business,” declared Roth.
The NYPPA is asking members of the media to show their support by attending this press conference in a moment of solidarity. The legislation will provide relief to media organizations saddled with the additional expense of summons payments, and those photographers and reporters who use their own vehicles on assignments and receive no reimbursement for summonses received on the job.
Bruce Cotler, President (212) 889-6633
Robert Roth, Chair, Government Relations (718) 851-1416
Todd Maisel, Vice President (646) 872-5374
WHO: Members of the New York Press Photographers Association and City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez.
WHAT: Rally in advance of proposed legislation to restore parking rights for media vehicles on assignment.
WHERE: Steps of City Hall (enter via East Gate on Park Row.)
WHEN: Tuesday, April 28, 2015, 11:00 a.m.