Q&A: Covering fires

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From The Indianapolis Star:

Q: I want to be prepared to cover fire scenes. Do reporters have a right to access the area where a fire is being fought?

A: Reporters don’t have any greater rights than an average citizen when approaching either a fire, traffic accident or crime scene.

If the police have set up a perimeter restricting access to the scene, you can ask to cross the line, but you don’t have a right to enter the perimeter.

Depending on your relationship with the officer securing the perimeter, your best bet is to seek out the public information officer to get permission to get closer for a photo or to talk to witnesses or firefighters.

Otherwise, you’ll be limited to taking photos from the street or sidewalk or private property if the owner allows you.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.

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