Will freelance reporter Natasha Lennard be reporting on Occupy Wall Street for the New York Times anytime soon? Lennard contributed some of the paper’s reporting earlier this month from OWS, most notably when writing about her arrest on the Brooklyn Bridge at nytimes.com. Her last filing appears to be October 8.
Lennard, who has also reported for Politico and the left-wing Salon magazine, addressed a discussion of Occupy Wall Street at the feminist Bluestockings book store on the Lower East Side of Manhattan on October 14, filmed and promoted by the radical magazine Jacobin (note the guillotine), reported Lee Stranahan at Big Government on Sunday. (The full video is also available at Times Watch).
During the 1 hour-45 minute panel discussion, Lennard often tangled with the more blunt Jodi Davis, a Communist and professor in New York State, who sounded positively practical in comparison to Lennard’s Marxist theory-rambling.
Sharing the microphone with five hard-core lefties, Lennard’s comments, alternately post-modern and potty-mouthed, were peppered with potshots at the NYPD. Six minutes into the recording she mentioned “one bloody face courtesy of New York’s less than finest.” Around 40 minutes in, reacting to an audience member mentioning the police crackdown in Spain, she said that excessive self-policing in the movement, which is what she claims happened in Spain, “is a risk that Occupy Wall Street faces, as much as the baton-wielding, helmet-wearing monsters who seem to actually push the movement into a more exciting place every week.”
The rest of what Lennard said, of “coding people” and the danger of “assuming commonalities,” was too opaque to have very piercing political bite. But she identified with the protest 57 minutes in, in response to a question: “...I think that’s what we need to think about, not just occupation in terms of a stable notion of space to sit in, but what genuinely occupies in terms of holds up flows, in terms of makes people occupied in their minds otherwise.” Lennard then attempted to blow everyone’s mind with other possible definitions of “occupy.”
Lennard responded to Big Government with defensive posts on her Twitter account Monday morning, including this one: “Not only am i not on NYT payroll; have only freelanced sporadically. And a debate in a bookshop is not an organizing mtg”
The Times has had trouble in the past with activism among outside contributors. In 2005 Elizabeth Landau, a Princeton student and Times stringer, reported on a protest against then Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist -- after actually participating in the protest: "...The writer, a freelance contributor who is a Princeton student, did not disclose to The Times that before she was assigned the article, she had participated in the demonstration. The Times does not ordinarily allow its writers to cover events in which they have taken part, and the paper's staff and contributors are not permitted to join rallies or demonstrations on divisive issues....”
Sharaf Mowjood was a lobbyist for the Council on American Islamic Relations, an interest group that strongly supports the Ground Zero mosque. He also reported for the Times on the proposed mosque at Ground Zero, which CAIR strongly supports.