NYSE Ban of Al-Jazeera Reporters Prompts Outcry

Media watchdogs criticized the New York Stock Exchange's decision to revoke the credentials of Arab TV network Al-Jazeera, calling it outrageous and shortsighted.

The network said Tuesday it was deeply concerned about revocation of the credentials of reporters Ammar al-Sankari and Ramsey Shiber. Al-Jazeera has blamed the decision on the satellite station's coverage of the war in Iraq.

Exchange spokesman Ray Pellechia denied the station's war coverage was the cause. Citing security reasons, he said the exchange had chosen to limit the number of broadcasters working at the lower Manhattan exchange since the war began, giving access only to networks that focus on "responsible business coverage."

Bob Steele of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies said the decision could create problems for U.S. journalists working abroad.

"American journalists might find their credentials or journalistic access limited or denied in other countries in response to the Al-Jazeera situation with the NYSE," Steele said.

New York University professor Mitchell Stephens said the NYSE's actions were unlike any restrictions that nations have historically imposed on journalists from countries they are at war with.

"Certainly Wall Street is part of the story of this war," said Stephens, a professor of journalism and mass communications. "That (Al-Jazeera) should be restricted in their abilities to bring their audience this aspect of the story strikes me as foolish and as a threat to the free flow of information in the world."

On Sunday, U.S. military officials criticized Al-Jazeera for carrying Iraqi TV footage of dead American soldiers and captured U.S. prisoners of war. Al-Jazeera later honored a U.S. request to stop until families could be notified, a statement from the station said.

Al-Jazeera is based in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar, which also hosts the U.S. military's Central Command for the region.