TD Jazz Festival Hassles Reporter

Reporter told to stop filming video when taking photographs at Halifax TD Jazz Festival

Aurora Scott singing the blues at TD Halifax Jazz Festival (photo Stephen Pate)

While attending the TD Halifax Jazz Concert free concerts on Monday, I was approached twice by security volunteers and told to stop filming video.

After stating I was taking still photographs for a media story, the security supervisor repeatedly told me to stop filming video.

How do you stop doing what you are not doing? The volunteer, untrained security staff were not taking the answers. Were they going to use the rubber hose on me to get the right answers?

Moderate crowd at the TD Halifax Jazz Festival lunch time free concerts (photo Stephen Pate)

Refusing admittance or hassling reporters is one way to stop any negative press.

We are not likely to return to the venue to report if the TD Halifax Jazz Festival is worth the $225 price of an All Events Pass.

We can report without reservation that the Free Daytime Concerts, starting at noon until July 14th, are worth the price of the ticket. That assumes you are retired or not gainfully employed if you linger beyond lunch hour.

Security versus the media

There have been run-ins between reporters and the police over photographs before. The London Olympics security invoked the Treason Act against a reporter this week. O2 Olympic venue security staff stop legal photography – video

With the proliferation of cell phone cameras and social media, the police in Iran, Syria, and the United States are sensitive to citizen journalists. A discussion on the Flickr photography site says that harassment of photo journalists by the police is on the rise. After a comment about executions of photographers in Mexico, one photog said “no one is the US has been executed to my knowledge for photography, but yes some have been beaten detained etc.”

For an internet journalist in a wheelchair, this does not seem like something to look forward to in my job. I avoid foreign assignments and reporting on the drug trade.

TD Halifax Jazz Festival Media rights

A venue can eject a reporter although few will go to that extreme since everything gets written up. Usually there is a process to get media accreditation.

Riot Squad at the TD Halifax Jazz Festival Free Concerts (Jamie Gatti – bass; Geordie Haley – guitar; Dave Burton – drums; Chris Mitchell – saxophone; Rick Waychesko – trumpet) (photo Stephen Pate)

The TD Halifax Jazz Festival has no media accreditation application or press officer.

Upon arrival, I registered with the Information booth and they took my name, publication and cell phone number.

I said I would be reporting on the Jazz Festival for 4 days and taking photographs.

The volunteer did not caution me about video but I did not have a video camera and announced my intentions. Frankly taking video is not worth the effort. Getting a video ready for publication takes too much time considering the few people who might watch a jazz clip.

I tried to contact Kasia Morrison, the Festival Communications and Marketing Manager, but she did not return my email. It was telling that they have no press officer and consider reporting part of marketing.

TD Halifax Jazz Festival General Manager Heather Gibson did return an email with an oblique non-denial denial worthy of Watergate.

“I am sorry that you had this experience today at the Jazz Festival. There are strict policies in place that prohibit any video at the  festival unless a waiver signed by the musicians has been provided. This applies to all media and  cell phones, although those are much  more difficult to monitor sometimes but we try.”

Since I was not taking videos and stated that clearly when asked, the response did not apply. Why is she blaming me for taking videos?

“My understanding is that the security volunteers thought you were  taking videos and asked such,” continued Gibson.  “My apologies that the communication of  these policies wasn’t clear and straightforward from the volunteers onsite.”

Gibson did not invite me back, so I will not bother returning to “not video” the jazz festival. There are so many stories to cover and only so much time.

Ironically while trying to explain the obvious to the security volunteer, two CBC types arrived and were given their media badges and lanyards. “We have extra lanyards,” said someone rummaging through a box. It felt like a group hug was imminent.

It does not pay to be working for the internet media but is is more fun.

By Stephen Pate, NJN Network

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