August 18, 2019

After Police Raid and a Hearing, a San Francisco Freelancer Will Get His Property Back

After all, the day after the public defender’s death, Evan Sernoffsky, a San Francisco Chronicle crime reporter, published an article citing unnamed sources familiar with the same police report Mr. Carmody gave as supporting material to local TV news programs — but Mr. Sernoffsky’s apartment was not raided.

Audrey Cooper, The Chronicle’s editor in chief, suggested that the difference in the status of staff reporters at large news organizations and freelancers might have figured in the treatment of Mr. Carmody.

“It’s harder to come after our corporation and come into our newsroom than it is a one-person operation,” Ms. Cooper said, adding, “And, of course, no politician in San Francisco wants to pick that fight with us.”

Mr. Carmody’s brand of journalism differs from the kind practiced by deskbound staff members. He is what some in the business call a stringer or, more colorfully, a “night crawler.” That means he jumps on breaking news, frequently in the wee hours. He typically sells his reports to local TV stations and often does not receive on-air credit for his work.

“A lot of it is fires, car crashes, homicides,” he said in a recent interview.

In an opinion article last week, Ms. Cooper, the Chronicle editor, defended Mr. Carmody while acknowledging that he was a “less-than-ideal” martyr for the cause of press freedom at a time when it is under broad attack.

His chosen line of work, which he has practiced for nearly 30 years, may make him someone who does not quite fit the public’s definition of a journalist — but his supporters say he deserves the same protections as any reporter with benefits from a known institution.

“Freelancers are legitimate journalists,” said Kat Anderson, the interim executive officer at Guild Freelancers, which bills itself as a union for independent journalists, primarily in Northern California. “We’re entering a danger zone if we start denying someone is a journalist when they claim they are.”

In a brief interview Monday, before the hearing, Mr. Carmody was defiant. “I have a full-time job at a media company,” he said, referring to his own news agency, North Bay News. “Why they didn’t recognize that, I don’t know.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/21/business/media/press-freedom-carmody-freelancer.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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