Further signs of delusion at Metrolinx: Requiring reporters to ask for permission and sign a waiver before shooting photos at Union Station or GO Transit stations.
Star reporter Alex Consiglio was put in a headlock by police, arrested and handcuffed early Sunday after he took pictures of a scuffle at Union Station involving two GO Transit officers.
He was issued a $65 trespassing ticket and released from custody without charge, leaving him puzzled about why he was manhandled by police, since he did not resist arrest.
Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash alleges Consiglio was told to move back, but didn’t, and was “very challenging,” by telling officers he didn’t have to move back because he’s media.
Police have already demonstrated that citizens who film or photograph them while in conflict with evil-doers could be beaten and arrested for not moving so far back that their cameras are useless.
When it comes to media, and particularly the Star, Pugash can be very challenging himself. I think he went to the same charm school as Doug Ford.
But the reaction to the incident by a spokesperson for Metrolinx, which is in charge of GO and Union Station, is further evidence of their witlessness.
(This is the same outfit that last week sent out its wealthy, pompous chairman, John Robert Stobo Prichard, to tell the lower orders why they’ll have to dig up at least $477 per year, per household, to pay for its transit expansion plan).
Media relations manager Anne Marie Aikins says media is not allowed to take photos in Union Station without first obtaining permission and signing a waiver, even though the public is welcome to take all the photos they want.
As a matter of “public safety,” during potentially volatile situations, Aikins said people may be asked “to leave and to stop taking pictures.
“If you’re taking pictures in the official capacity of your job, that’s where there is a liability issue. If people are using their cell phones and taking pictures or even using their cameras to take tourist shots, there isn’t that kind of an issue because it’s not in an official capacity.”
She did not explain the liability issues in play when media take photos, which I suspect has more to do with trying to control access, to reduce the risk of embarrassment of photos shot by someone in an
Suppose there’s an emergency at Union Station or any GO station (I’m assuming the same rules apply at all GO facilities), and it is serious enough that news media rush to the scene to cover it.
Are they supposed to call Metrolinx and get permission first, and then meet up with Aikins to sign the waiver (and waive what?), before entering the station to interview people and take photos or shoot film?
What if nobody picks up the phone, or Metrolinx says no? Should we just forget about it and go get a coffee?
She knows it’ll never happen that way, yet Metrolinx is applying rules that make trespassers and rule breakers out of legitimate media serving the public interest, in a public place.
I have my own rule, which has served me well in more than 25 years as a reporter: Get story (and photos) now. Get permission later.
My job occasionally involves going into Union Station and GO stations to check out things that need fixing, and shoot photos of them. I had no idea I was trespassing and breaking Metrolinx rules.
Here is my official response, in my official capacity as news media: Screw you. I’ll take all the photos I want, and trespass, too.
Are you going to call police to put me in a headlock and handcuffs for shooting pictures of an out-of-service escalator?