Thad Allen, said in a media advisory that due to equipment which had been "damaged", officials will attempt to "discriminate" between media and "somebody who's hanging around". The advisory did not specify what criteria would be used to make such a determination, nor does it say the Coast Guard is backing off the exclusion zone, which was claimed in some initial online reports.
The announcement does not mention the penalty for violation of the 20-meter rule; indeed, it appears as though a Class D felony charge and fine of $40,000 are still real threats to reporters who refuse to ask permission.
The only real difference between prior policy and the revised media requirements is a centralization of credentialing operations. Previously, reporters were told to ask local authorities for permission to enter the exclusion zone. Such requests have often been granted or denied on a whim, for reasons real or imagined. It would appear that could still be the case, except the determination is now to be made by Unified Command in New Orleans, instead of officers or security guards on the scene.
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