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  • Fla. Reporter Forbidden to Dig for Facts

    A Florida TV reporter this weekend quickly learned that a journalist’s job is not to dig for facts and a beach is no place for a shovel — at least not in the eyes of government officials.

    Dan Thomas, a reporter at the local ABC affiliate in Pensacola, Fla., took a shovel to the Gulf Island National Seashore to investigate just why BP workers can’t dig more than six inches in the sand to look for oil. Park officials promptly stopped him.

    “We had come out here to the National Park to show you just what exactly is in the sand, lower than six inches,” Thomas said in a news broadcast that aired Sept. 18. “We wanted to use the shovel and give you a look, but apparently, that’s illegal.”

    The broadcast does give viewers a peek beneath six inches — and oil is clearly visible. Maybe that’s why officials didn’t want Thomas to poke around in the sand. Thomas had barely begun to dig when Pat Gonzales, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife officer said, “You don’t have a permit to do this,” and ordered Thomas to move down the beach.

    Further down the beach, yet another official — this time an A. Negron with the National Park Service — demanded to see Thomas’ papers. Negron not only wanted to see a digging permit, but he also wanted to see a press pass.

    Papers just to film at a public beach? No home videos of the family vacation, then — and say goodbye to sand castles if digging is also off-limits. But even more importantly, how’s a journalist supposed to deliver the news if he’s not allowed to uncover it? Oil aside, park policies seem a little extreme.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    14 Responses to Fla. Reporter Forbidden to Dig for Facts

    1. Brian, Michigan says:

      Soooo, Help me understand. You can be asked for papers on the public beach if you have a camera……………but reasonable cause in Arizona is not a reason for asking for your ID?

      Maybe we need to deploy the Park Service along the border instead……

    2. Cindy, Arizona says:

      Excellent point Brian.

    3. Jeanie, O'Fallo says:

      National Park Ranger to Reporter: "Sir, what do you think you are doing? Do you have some identification proving you that you are with the Press?"…

      Arizona State Patrolman to random traffic stop subject: "Please be safe, you drive carefully now, ya hear?, Let me know if anyone hassles you for looking like you don't belong here"…

      THAT'S the America we live in!!

    4. Chris, San Jose says:

      I once had a teacher who I respected who told me that someday soon, in your lifetime, you will have to show your papers to travel, while Russians will be free… I thought he was nuts…

    5. Cheryl, CO says:

      This is more of that "transparency" BO promised.

    6. Edward Kimble, 46725 says:


    7. George Colgrove, VA says:

      What is up with the federal government? What are they hiding? They seem to be getting more secretive every day. This does not sound right.

    8. Buzz Yeatman, Black says:

      This is a wake up call! November may be our last oportunity to stop us from being a totalitarian state. Are we in Germany circa 1930?

    9. Bill, Northern New Y says:

      When the powerful control the message the truth is nearly impossible to obtain. Would this (our) government arrest the reporter if he couldn't produce his papres?! What's next? To remain a free people we must not forget who we are and that our government is for protection not control!

    10. Karen says:

      I think that action is illegal. Where is the ACLU? Where is the lawsuit?

      Where is the common sense! Send it to the TV media. Or, just take a kid to the beach and let them play with a pail and take some oil home with you, then

      make it public. The whole thing is a case of little bureaucrats trying to play

      God. Fire their bosses!

    11. Clearhead says:

      Don't these 'officers' pay any attention to the news? Don't they remember what Mr. Kennedy said?? "……..we find ourselves in a hole. We've got to keep digging until we get out of it……." Instead of "spreading the wealth" why can't we first "spread the WISDOM" ?

    12. Judy says:

      Unbelievable police state mentality and the Fish and Game guy behaved in a downright intimidating manner..by whose orders I wonder? Afraid what would be found or what? Is this America?!!

    13. terry in ohio says:

      national seashore..just like national parks and most state parks in the USA…..No digging..have to leave the stuff in the ground for future generations..

      These are your tax dollars at work……protecting the sand

    14. Eri says:

      ok i'm slightly confused. why is it a secret that there is oil on the beach and if there is it SHOULD be closed down to the public for safety. Do you want your child digging sand castles and hitting oil!!!!!

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