The Radio Television Digital News Association announced it is creating a new award category to recognize a pair of local broadcast journalists who were arrested in the line of duty within the past year.
WBRZ is set to receive the first Edward R. Murrow “Repeat Offender” Award in recognition of the headline-grabbing arrests of its investigative reporters Brett Buffington and Chris Nakamoto, who were each detained by law enforcement officers while attempting to cover two different stories.
Buffington was arrested and imprisoned for several hours last May after photographing a scene that was being worked by several members of the Baton Rouge Police Department. Buffington subsequently filed suit against the arresting officer who, among other things, allegedly forced him to watch a video warning about the risks of being raped in prison.
Then just last week, Nakamoto was arrested by White Castle police as he attempted to follow up on a public records request — filed just two days earlier — involving an apparent raise in the mayor’s salary.
“The RTDNA has decided to create the Edward R. Murrow Repeat Offender Award to honor WBRZ’s team of intrepid investigative reporters who have been arrested by police in pursuit of the truth and TV ratings.”
RTDNA acknowledged in a statement that a lesser reporter might have waited the entire 72 hours public agencies are afforded to fulfill such requests. However, it noted that WBRZ’s chief investigator realized it was Holy Week, a time in which 48 hours somehow equals three days, at least in the Christian interpretation of the time between Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday and resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Moreover, it stated that had the 72 hours gone by without the public agency complying with the law, a lesser reporter would have then likely just had his or her station’s lawyer send a follow-up letter reminding the targeted agency about the Freedom of Information Act, rather than travel all the way to the small town and capture some high-quality “gotcha footage” for broadcast.
“After learning about the harrowing tales of Brett Buffington and Chris Nakamoto,” the statement reads, “the RTDNA has decided to create the Edward R. Murrow Repeat Offender Award to honor WBRZ’s team of intrepid investigative reporters who have been arrested by police in pursuit of the truth and TV ratings.”
The statement goes on to say, “Edward R. Murrow may never have been arrested while trying to report the news, but he undoubtedly would have gone to jail and watched countless prison rape videos for the sake of getting the story and injecting himself into that story.”