Former NY Times Occupy Freelancer Hosts Event Tonight

Salon.com’s Natasha Lennard will be presenting a webcast at 9:00 pm ET tonight on the Occupy movement, as organizers struggle to mobilize protesters in numbers for the next phase of the movement, “American Spring.”

As winter thaws, the hotspots of the Occupy Movement are seeing the first ripples of resurgence. From New York to Oakland, crowds are returning to the streets, but will the plan for a May 1 General Strike spark an American Spring or will the movement splinter and fade into Tea Party-like irrelevance?

Join Salon’s Occupy correspondent Natasha Lennard for a live, interactive webcast at 9 PM (EDT) on Wednesday April 4 to share your thoughts and questions on the future of the movement.

Lennard is the former NY Times freelance journalist who was arrested last October with about seven hundred Occupy protesters in a protest that shut down the Brooklyn Bridge.  Big Government contributor Lee Stranahan covered the incident at the time.  He then followed up three weeks later with a breaking video of Lennard’s participation on a panel in which she was seen “participating as a featured speaker in a discussion among anarchists, communists, and other radicals as they examine the theory, strategy and tactics of the Occupy protests.”  The video revealed Lennard’s knowledge of proposed Occupy activities and her acknowledgement of their questionable legality.  The story sparked widespread criticism of Lennard’s coverage on Occupy, specifically the journalist’s involvement in the Brooklyn Bridge arrests, and called into question for many her ability to report objectively on the movement.

Stranahan subsequently wrote a letter to the public editor at the NY Times, who promptly responded.

"This freelancer has not been involved in our coverage of Occupy Wall Street in recent days, and we have no plans to use her for future coverage. We have reviewed the past stories to which she contributed and have not found any reasons for concern over that reporting."

[…]

So this does not appear to be a case of someone who went on the bridge so she could participate in the protest. She went on the bridge on instructions from The Times. What she did subsequently, in the sense of identifying with OWS on the panel you referenced, appears to have prompted The Times not to use her services in the future. At this point, however, I do not have any evidence that her Oct. 2 piece was written by someone who was acting as a protester at the time. I think The Times has taken the appropriate steps to resolve the matter."

While the NY Times concluded that Lennard’s Occupy coverage and arrest had not been inappropriate, it did sever ties with the journalist over her close proximity to Occupy’s strategic planning details as revealed on the video.

Shortly thereafter, Lennard announced that she’d thrown objectivity aside altogether and had parted ways with the mainstream media.

Lennard’s participation in tonight’s webcast appears to be further affirmation of the journalist’s affinity to the Occupy movement, a detail that could easily have just been shared with readers in the first place.


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