SPJ says action is 'reckless'; news site hacked

WASHINGTON — The New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday pulled the credentials of two TV correspondents reporting for Arabic news satcaster Al-Jazeera, saying it needed more “space” for “responsible” journalists.

“We’ve had to prioritize requests that we’ve gotten and focus our efforts on those who focus on providing responsible business coverage, and as a result we cannot accommodate Al-Jazeera at this time,” NYSE spokesman Ray Pellecchia said. “If we can develop more capacity in the future and they are interested in coming back, they may be allowed back.”

Al-Jazeera reps had a different take on the day’s events, saying the correspondents were booted because of the network’s war coverage. The Qatar-based Al-Jazeera is one of the few independent news orgs in the Middle East. Qatar, perched on the Persian Gulf, is host to a sprawling U.S. military base set up in recent months.

Responding swiftly to the NYSE’s action, the Society of Professional Journalists asked the NYSE to reconsider its decision revoking the credentials. SPJ president-elect Mac McKerral said it was a “reckless” decision, and one that could cause retaliation against U.S. journalists working abroad.

“A decision to deny Al-Jazeera reporters credentials does nothing to support our country’s image as a place where the free exchange of ideas and information serves as the foundation for everything America does. The reported explanation for the denial of credentials is awfully weak, and I think most people see that. It’s the well-worn security trump card,” McKerral said.

Also Tuesday, Al-Jazeera said its new, English Internet site had been hacked. The site, launched a day earlier, was rendered unavailable on servers in the U.S.

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