Walmart and freedom of the press

Donna Halper
Thu Jan 6 14:32:39 EST 2005

I know most of us are in radio, but I thought I'd ask those of you who also 
do some TV or print.  The other day, a mentally ill guy basically stripped 
naked in a Walmart parking lot in Maryland.  A local news photographer for 
the newspaper was in the area doing other stuff but when he saw the scene, 
he snapped a picture (very tasteful, nothing obscene).  But Walmart tried 
to confiscate his camera, citing a policy that no pictures can be taken on 
Walmart property without permission-- not even pictures of breaking 
news.  All pictures must be approved in advance-- here is their stated 
policy.  Does this make sense to anyone?  Unless newspeople are psychic, 
how are they supposed to do their jobs?

Wal-Mart's photo policy

Wal-Mart's policy that all photos taken on its property must be approved in 
advance includes breaking news coverage, company spokeswoman Christi 
Gallagher said.

The company requires the media - or anyone else - to get approval before 
taking pictures in Wal-Mart stores or on Wal-Mart property, she said.

Asked if journalists photographing unexpected news, such as a fire, need 
the same permission, Gallagher said they do.

After hours, a journalist should call the company's 24-hour corporate 
hotline before taking pictures, she said.    

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