In an ‘unusual’ meeting, NYPD gathers press corps to address recent A.P. reports on surveillance of Muslim groups

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Oustside Masjid at-Taqwa in Brooklyn. (Wikimedia commons)
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The Lineup collects the media stories, big and small, that are on our radar each day.

A.P. vs. NYPD

Late yestserday afternoon, we got a tip that NYPD brass had rounded up all the local police beat reporters for a spontaneous meeting related to something that has become a perpetual thorn in the department's side in recent months: The Associated Press' ongoing probe of police surveillance of Muslim communities in and around the city.

Specifically, we were told, the meeting was convened in response to the latest installment in the series, which began last August—a report earlier this week that "Americans living and working in New Jersey's largest city were subjected to surveillance as part of the New York Police Department's effort to build databases of where Muslims work, shop and pray. The operation in Newark was so secretive even the city's mayor [Cory Booker] says he was kept in the dark."

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Indeed, When the new A.P. report landed on Wednesday, Booker was furious, telling the Star-Ledger: "I have deep concerns and I am very disturbed that this might have been surveillance that was based on no more than religious affiliation." And so once again, the NYPD spun into damage control mode.

The Daily News reports:

At an unusual press briefing, chief spokesman Paul Browne said the NYPD operates under the tightest civil liberties regulations of any police department in the land.

“There's been a suggestion that what we are doing doesn't comport with legal requirements, and that's not the case,” Browne said. “Everything we're doing is done constitutionally.”

For the most part, both city tabloids have come down hard on the A.P. investigation in their opinion pages, painting the wire as unpatriotic and naive for questioning tactics that some would view as a necessary defense in the war on terror. Earlier this week, for instance, New York Post columnist Michael A. Walsh suggested that the A.P. "for months now has been waging a journalistic jihad against the NYPD and its counterterrorism tactics in the name of 'civil rights.'"

But the A.P. found a more sympathetic ear in today's News, which includes a piece from progressive columnist Juan Gonzalez in which he calls the NYPD program "religious profiling on steroids" and writes of the department's controversial spokesman: "Browne is one the most capable and likeable NYPD spokesman in decades. But he has been caught making so many false statements lately about the department’s anti-terrorism program that his credibility has been irreparably damaged."

Revolving door

Industry vet Christopher Knutsen has been named executive editor of WSJ. magazine, The Wall Street Journal's glossy style supplement, the title announced today.

"He brings a depth of editing experience in culture, business, style, and politics, and will be reporting to Editor-in-Chief Deborah Needleman," said a press release. Knutsen was previously a senior editor at Vogue, "where he assigned and edited features with an emphasis on politics and current events," the release continued.

He's also done stints at the late Radar and The New Yorker, where he was managing editor for three of the nine years he spent at the plum Conde Nast weekly.

As WWD's John Koblin reported last week, WSJ. is gaining ground on its rival, T: The New York Times Style Magazine.

"In 2011," Koblin wrote, "WSJ. had a double-digit increase in ad pages and this year will get another frequency bump to 10 issues, the third time that’s happened in three years."

In other news...

News outlets are faced with a quandary on how to cover Syria. Has it simply become too risky to have reporters on the ground? [The Washington Post]

"Even the most skilled war correspondent, steeped in years of conflict reporting, would have to think hard about crossing into Syria right now," writes David Carr. "The video coming out of Syria is important, but without the lens of journalism, it is not sufficient. War requires witness that goes beyond clicking on a YouTube video." [Media Decoder]

New evidence of a phone-hacking cover-up at News of the World has emerged. [The Telegraph]

Rupert Murdoch's news Sun on Sunday faces challenges. [AP]

The Los Angeles Times' paywall debuts March 5. [Romenesko]

The Washginton Post Company's fourth quarter earnings dropped 22 percent. [WaPo]

The company has finally given Slate its own ad sales staff. [Ad Age]

And its flagship paper has sweetened its buyout offer. [Poynter]

More on the new incarnation of Romenesko. [AJR]

Bloomberg L.P. has pulled ahead of Thomson Reuters in market share. [Crain's]

"The number of people who care about who reported something first is rapidly diminishing," writes Mathew Ingram. [GigaOM]

Time magazine is sorry for putting a non-Latino on its "Yo Decido" cover this week. [The Cutline]

Threatening letters were sent to several media organizations. [TV Newser]

Where does The Huffington Post draw the line on which world leaders can blog for it? [Dylan Byers]

The world's first-ever Lent liveblog? [HuffPost]