We stay behind the tape, angling to see as much of the scene as we can. We know it's illegal to cross over to the other side of the tape, so we don't do it. We talk to witnesses around the area. Eventually, a public information officer comes over and tells us what's going on.
But what happens when journalists show up before the scene has been roped off?
Photojournalist Carlos Miller may have found out the hard way last week. While reporting about Miami's Upper Eastside gentrification efforts for the online publication Category305, Miller began photographing some Miami police officers interviewing a subject on Biscayne Boulevard.
According to Miller's account of the story (read what Category 305 posted), five cops asked him to move on. He says he identified himself as a journalist and informed them he was allowed to photograph on public property.
They disagreed, saying Miller was standing in the middle of the street and disobeying their orders. He was arrested, charged with several misdemeanors and booked into jail, where he was released the next day pending trial.
Miller pleaded not guilty and says he will fight the charges. In an e-mail to me tonight, he wrote, "Sure it would have been easier to do as they say and continue walking. But for me, it's more important to stand up for my First Amendment rights. And this, as you know, affects all of us in the media."