Saturday, March 03, 2007

High School Associations Vs. The Press - round 2

About a month ago, I wrote about how the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association ws putting the squeeze on newspapers -- telling them they could not photograph the high school tourneys and they sell the photos. The papers, predictably squealed like stuck pigs.

Now a similar brouhaha has emerged in Louisiana, only the word is that the Louisiana association has caved after a walkout by photographers. Good for them (the photographers, that is), but I suspect we'll hear more of these. Selling the rights to the events to one entity is becoming more common, with broadcast as the pattern and the Fox regional sports networks often getting into the act (see this rights fees handout (PDF) from the Washington state high school association, for instance).

As for Wisconsin, a Google search doesn't turn up much fresh since the original round of hand-wringing in early February. But there is a hint of some detente -- this Green Bay Press-Gazette photo gallery from the state wrestling tournament with the prominent "buy photo" button.

Just a thought though: In the Louisiana case, the newspaper folks are dragging out the chestnuts like "tried to trample on the First Amendment rights of Louisiana newspapers" and in the Wisconsin case, tossing about bon mots like "aside from the questionable legality."

Uh, try reading the Constitution again. There is no guaranteed right to news gathering, much as that may irritate all of us. And private, nonprofit associations generally are not agents of the state and can pretty much do what they want in this arena. So cool the jets on the rhetoric. I'd be more impressed if these papers would take on the NCAA and the local college behemoth, instead of slurping all over them. When I see all the photogs walk out of a college game, I'll become a believer.

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