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NYS Associated Press Association issues Mount McGregor statement

Updated: 07/27/2014 8:47 PM
Created: 07/25/2014 4:13 PM WNYT.com
By: WNYT Staff

The state correctional facility at Mount McGregor is scheduled to close this weekend.

When it does, the state historic site where President Ulysses S. Grant spent his final days will face new challenges.

The only way to get to Grant’s Cottage is through the grounds of Mount McGregor.

The cottage relies on the prison for its utilities. NewsChannel 13 was working on this story Thursday when reporter Mark Mulholland was confronted by a corrections officer who ordered us to stop recording video, turn over the video we had already gathered and leave the area.

After about an hour, we were allowed to leave with our video.

A spokesman for the department of corrections issued a statement accusing us of trespassing

The New York State Associated Press Association issued a strongly worded statement on Friday condemning the actions of the corrections officer:

July 25, 2014

TO: ALL NEWS MEDIA

RE: WNYT-Ch. 13 incident at Grant Cottage/Mount McGregor prison

The New York State Associated Press Association condemns the actions of Department of Corrections officials at Mount McGregor prison in Wilton, N.Y. for interfering with an Albany TV station’s news-gathering while doing a news story on the impact the prison closing will have on the place where President U.S. Grant died.

The association, composed of newspapers and radio and TV stations throughout New York State served by AP, provides professional training, recognition and a forum for its members to discuss mutual concerns.

While we understand that measures need to be taken to ensure prison security, we do not believe that security was in any way compromised by Channel 13’s reporting. There are no prisoners on site and the prison is to close within days.

Even after the NewsChannel 13 reporter agreed to change the location of the filming, the Department of Corrections officer instructed him that he would not be able to return to the public historic site. The corrections officer threatened to call the State Police and have the crew arrested if they did not follow these orders.

When the crew tried to return to the public historic site, the entrance was blocked by a Department of Corrections car. The State Police did respond and a Department of Corrections lieutenant demanded the film crew give up its video They rightly refused.

The actions of the Department of Corrections officers were an infringement on their First Amendment rights to report the news. We believe that the Channel 13 crew is owed an apology and that news media across the state need to be assured by Department of Corrections officials and Gov. Cuomo that this incident will be investigated and disciplinary measures taken to ensure that people’s rights to a free press are not infringed. This is the most recent example of the animosity and confrontational environment that state government continues to tolerate at all levels when working with news media.

Ken Tingley
President
New York State Associated Press Association

Albany

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