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|| News Item: Posted 2001-10-25

Say Cheese!
Mug Shots Now on NBA Credentials

By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/Sports Shooter

Photo by Robert Hanashiro/Sports Shooter
"Must feel funny being on the other side of the camera," the lady said to me when I went to pick up my Los Angeles Lakers season credential.

It's a new era in covering sports. Hand searches of equipment bags and cases, double-checking pictured Ids and now your mug shot on the front of your credential. It's all "in the interest of increased security" the team says.

While on the surface this sounds like a good idea, what about the newspapers that have large staffs or for that matter, with five or six shooters? Teams won't issue usually more than three season photo credentials.

"We don't know what we're going to do. The team doesn't know what they are going to do," one exasperated picture editor said, "Reason and common sense went out the door (the team) wants us to send over ALL of our staff photographers!"

When picking up credentials, the teams are asking for a drivers license number and a social security number. This has rubbed some the wrong way.

"They can't ask for (a social security number)," a veteran photographer said when told he must supply the team with his social security number, "That's private financial information. Only your employer or the government can ask for that kind of information."

But most photographers and editors contacted by Sports Shooter agree that increased security is a good idea. But what constitutes good, sound security measures?

"Most of this is just for show," a picture editor from a large metro paper commented, "Anyone with 20 bucks can buy a ticket and walk into an arena and get checked up less than the media now. It's hard to imagine all of this effort and hassle for 100 members of the media when you have basically 15,000 people walking into the same building and not have to supply ID or be searched as thoroughly."

But another troubling part of this is the inconsistency between teamseven ones sharing the same arena.

The Los Angeles Clippers are telling certain members of the media that season credentials will not be issued unless they are going to cover all of the teams' home games. However, other local media outlets are being issued credentials without that caveat.

When the Los Angeles Times asked the Clippers media department about their season credential request, they were told to "just give us the names of three of your photographers." But when it was pointed out that they have nearly 40 staff shooters, they were told "the rest will have to get credentials on a day-by-day basis" if they were assigned to cover a game.

While day passes seemingly are the solution to this (but you still have to provide the team with the photographers' driver license number and social security number) one photographer pointed out that most media will call windows are open two hours and sometimes an hour and a half before tip-off. "That's not enough time to get into the building and set up remotes if you need to," he pointed out, "An hour and a half is barely enough time to get your gear together, laptop set up and haggle about your spot on the floor!"

The Times is covering the Lakers home pre-season games on day passes in the interim. But one solution sounds like more hassles: all of the staff photographers have their mugs taken by the team and are on file at the gate before each game.

Obviously this is a work in progress since this has all happened just a week before opening day. However one thing is already certain when Michael Jordan comes to town, all bets are off! " We're getting no more than 2 passes for any game and for the Wizards' games, only one pass! I think most of this crap" uttered an Los Angles Daily News staffer.


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