Monday, February 25, 2008

High school associations vs. the press - Round 4

(For previous posts, click on the "sports" label below.)

Well, in Illinois the dispute between the high school association and the press association over who gets to take pictures at athletic events has now reached the Legislature, even as it continues to slog its way through the courts.

Two legislators have introduced or are readying proposals to declare that news organizations have access to all public school sporting events as a matter of policy.

Given the growing tendency of high school associations in various states to demand control over access and photography rights, if the Illinois Press Association is successful, maybe press associations around the country should be looking at a little pre-emptive strike in their legislatures too (though I am mindful of the argument that in some states it might just stir the high school associations to try to assert rights they have not asserted before).

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At 2/25/08, 10:44 AM, Blogger Don said...

It is a shame that profile-potential has come to High School sports. The colleges are holding bidding wars, the pro's have moved to pay-per-view. If they keep it up, we will not cover any sports because of licensing fees or other restrictions.

At 2/25/08, 12:44 PM, Anonymous TootsNYC said...

I would love to see them add "or members of the public" to that law.

I think it's important for newspapers and journalists to note that the freedom-of-information and freedom-of-access rights they exercise are the rights of ALL CITIZENS.

Us journalists are simply doing for our fellow citizens the "going and getting of information" that they are too busy for.

We are surrogates for them, and are not exercising rights that THEY don't have.

I think if we made these freedom-of-access/information arguments on those grounds, we'd have MUCH stronger footing.

The one place that perhaps there is some divergence is in the protecting of sources.

At 2/28/08, 6:20 PM, Blogger Doug Fisher said...

Good points, both.

Interestingly enough, I'm not sure the "public venue" argument will fly in the courts. Many pro teams play in public venues, too, but they are allowed to restrict. So are colleges.

The argument that these are "public" schools always sounds enticing, but the high school associations often counter that they are "private" associations.

This war, I'm afraid, is far from over.

At 2/29/08, 10:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Newspapers and their Web sites aren't helping their cause on this issue, though, by increasingly looking to events such as high school sports as revenue-generating opportunities instead of news events.

At some publications, photographers are spending much of their time shooting photos of the crowd. Why? The publications can sell prints of these photos through their Web site. (Apparently the crowd shots tend to sell better than actual game photos.) I've been in on meetings where this was advocated and the logistics discussed.

Is there anything wrong with this? I guess not, though it strikes me as a bit unseemly. But I can understand how it opens newspapers up to the type of arguments used by associations trying to restrict access.


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