Mayor-elect opens media access to swearing-in


Associated Press

Posted on December 31, 2013 at 3:34 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 31 at 3:36 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio said Tuesday that he will accommodate the news media at his midnight swearing-in after all.

De Blasio's team had previously said there would be no media access to the ceremony at his Brooklyn home at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, with only video streamed live at and government-issued photos.

After a request from The Associated Press, de Blasio said at a news conference that he was willing to work with the media to give them access. He said the original plan was meant to spare Park Slope neighbors from a media crush.

"We're happy to work with the media to try to accommodate you tonight," de Blasio said. "The original concept we had was because it was on our block, we were trying to be respectful of our neighbors and try to strike a balance. We have always planned to livestream the event so the public will have full access to it."

"But we're happy to work it out, my colleagues will follow up with you on a way to accommodate the media."

The ceremony is to take place 12 hours before a before a public event at City Hall.

The AP had asked that the first ceremony be opened to the media. The AP has a policy against using handout images unless they are of significant news value and shot in areas that the press doesn't expect to have access to. The de Blasio team said past mayors have held similar private ceremonies, so there is precedent to restrict access.

AP Senior Managing Editor Michael Oreskes noted that the online stream meant the event wouldn't be private at all.

"There is an important principle at stake here. Independent journalists, as stand-ins for the public, should have access to government leaders as they perform the public's work," Oreskes said. "This includes historic moments such as the new mayor's first swearing-in ceremony. It is incompatible with a democratic society to leave the recording of these events solely in the hands of government employees."

Mayors traditionally take the oath of office before the official ceremony at City Hall. Bloomberg, a Republican-turned-independent, was sworn in all three times atop a Times Square skyscraper with New Year's Eve revelers on the streets below, and more watching the festivities on TV. Other mayors have opted for smaller ceremonies.

De Blasio will be sworn in again during the ceremony Wednesday by former President Bill Clinton.

More than a thousand people were expected to cram onto the plaza in front of City Hall for the one-hour ceremony. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Clinton's wife and ex-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton were scheduled to be there. Some of de Blasio's celebrity supporters, including actress Cynthia Nixon and singer Harry Belafonte, also planned to attend.