Crowdfunded Stenographer Denied Press Pass To Cover Transcriptless Bradley Manning Trial

Crowdfunded Stenographer Denied Press Pass To Cover Transcriptless Bradley Manning Trial (TechDirt, June 3, 2013):

The attempts to limit the press during the Bradley Manning trial have been somewhat ridiculous. The press hasn’t been allowed to record anything, even though someone clearly did so surreptitiously. Furthermore, there’s been no plan for an official court transcript of the proceedings either. About a month ago, the Freedom of the Press Foundation launched a crowdfunding campaign to try to hire their own professional stenographer to attend the trail to make a transcript. They even had some top press publications, including the Guardian, Forbes and the Verge, apply for an extra press pass for the crowdfunded stenographer. The military refused. But, more ridiculously, they claimed it was a space issue, though that’s an issue they could easily fix.

The Army received over 350 media applications for the trial, but only granted 70 to be present in the media room. In an emailed statement, the MDW Media Desk stated: “Your understanding of our space limitations based on building fire codes is greatly appreciated.”

In previous hearings, the Army has opened a public overflow theater with live audio and video streaming of the hearing. Additionally, the Army has sole discretion over which room(s) to designate as media rooms – including how many rooms to make available.

A large group of established news organizations — including the LA Times, NPR, the New Yorker, Fox News, Newsweek, Bloomberg and NY Magazine — have all asked the military to open up two additional press passes for stenographers (two so that they can overlap while switching shifts). The judge in the case, on Monday, announced that it would be okay for a stenographer to record a transcript using a stenography machine, which is great… except that without a press pass, they still can’t get the stenographer in. Thankfully, for Monday, a Bradley Manning supporter with a pass gave it up to the stenographer, but it’s somewhat ridiculous that it had to even come to that.

At this point, it really just seems like the Army is being incredibly petty over this case in its desire to limit the details of coverage. 

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