Officials Pull Back on Plans to Restrict Katrina Coverage

Sep 12, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Federal officials appear to have backed off plans to limit press coverage of the recovery of bodies after CNN won a temporary injunction Friday night against any such move by authorities in charge of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in New Orleans.

However, the press may not expect to be embedded with military mortuary teams and Federal Emergency Management Agency teams recovering bodies.

At a hearing Saturday morning in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, a representative of the U.S. Attorney’s Office presented a memo from an aide to relief commander Lt. Gen. Russel Honore that said Joint Task Force Katrina “has no plans to bar, impede, or prevent news media from their news gathering and reporting activities in connection with the deceased Hurricane Katrina victim efforts, including access to the sites, photographing and reporting.”

“We are pleased by the decision,” CNN News Group President Jim Walton said after the court session Saturday. “The free flow of information is vital for a free society.”

CNN filed its lawsuit hours after a press briefing Friday afternoon at which Lt. Gen. Honore said journalists no longer will be embedded with the military mortuary teams and seemed to declare restrictions on access to areas in which bodies most likely would be found.