Friday, November 03, 2006

Eastern Guilford High School Fire
Thin Yellow Line

Of course, like with any event with lots of media there are going to be problems. I'll call it the Thin Yellow Line.

Thin Yellow Line

Like I said in my previous entry we were moved late in the day to a slightly closer, certainly dryer, vantage point.

School Fire (5)

We had been in the spot beyond the red truck in the picture above and when any of the media wandered past te yellow tape into the driveway where the truck is parked certain law enforcers kind of lost their cool. It's kind of like there is a Thin Yellow Line between the Media and the Cops.

School Fire (4)

That's cool and all, I have no problem when them saying we can only get so close to a given scene. The problem, however, started with the fact that this driveway was our only way in and out and we had to use it but they were very paranoid that were just trying to sneak closer to the school everytime we walked into the roadway for any reasong whatsoever.

They threatened to arrest anyone who kept leaving the little area that they had marked off for us with little or no discretion for us getting farther from the scene.

School Fire (3)

Believe it or not they even thought they could stop us from walking on a public road to where the students had decided to gather. They told me and several other media people to go back into the taped off area when we tried to get to the area where the students in the picture above were.

And the walk to do that was OPPOSITE DIRECTION from the school building than our media corral's yellow fence line. We could go to the edge of our media box and step out the public road and walk down to the student's viewing point from an adjoining property.

((In the picture below the walk is from the yellow arrow to the right, then down the side of the road and then to the left toward the red arrow where the students were assembled.))

EGHS Gis Detail

When I started walking down the road where the students were continuously walking to and from the viewing area one deputy told me to go back to the media area, that's where we had to stay. I responded that I was walking on a public road just like the students. He responded that I wouldn't be allowed back to the media area.

I walked on to the student area and got the interviews and video that I needed to tell the story and luckily he didn't bother me on the way back to the media area.

I'm not sure why they wanted to keep us from going out to the area where the general public was allowed to roam freely. Luckily they didn't try to enforce it.

I'm all for the Thin Yellow Line to guide us to a safe yet reasonable vantage point. It let's us do our job without stepping on the shoes of the agencies doing theirs. But sometimes I like to back away from the scene to get a little perspective on the situation.

Using the Thin Yellow Line to keep the media hemmed into a small area is a no no.


Anonymous said...


Good for you for knowing your rights and not listening. The cops have this attitude that the media is different from the public. We're just the public with a pen, notepad, and an outlet.
Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

"...pen, notepad, outlet", and we park on sidewalks ;)