A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

FOI In-Brief

By Quill


News photographers and magazine writers won’t lose their longtime U.S. Capitol offices in the Democrats’ reorganization of Senate office space, Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle, D-S.D., announced July 11. “We’ve made the decision to keep people exactly where they are,” he told The Associated Press. Senate leaders had suggested that the photographers and magazine writers leave their third-floor rooms and share space with newspaper, television and radio reporters. The third-floor rooms had been earmarked for the Senate secretary’s office. Journalism groups, who had strongly protested the changes, celebrated the Senate’s change of plans. Curt Anderson, an AP reporter and chairman of the Standing Committee of Correspondents, told the AP that news organizations from around the country flooded Senate leaders with letters and telephone calls, which “was a major factor in helping us make our case.” Al Cross, president-elect of SPJ and political writer for The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal, said he was “grateful that the Senate leadership listened to the coalition of journalism organizations and acceded to our request to be allowed to continue in our gallery space.” SOUTH DAKOTA ALLOWS CAMERAS IN COURTROOM

In July, South Dakota became the last state in the union to allow cameras in court, making it possible for journalists to record, broadcast and take photos during state Supreme Court sessions. Guidelines for covering Supreme Court proceedings were proposed during a study by court employees, attorneys and news media representatives. Media that violate the rules could be cited with contempt of court and punished. “I’m very excited that my state has finally decided to let cameras into the courts,” Mark Millage, chairman of the Radio-Television News Directors Association and news director at KELO-TV in Sioux Falls, said in a news release, according to The Associated Press. “This is an important first step for electronic journalists and citizens across South Dakota.” For years, South Dakota and Mississippi were the only states that banned cameras from their courtrooms. In April, Mississippi began airing its Supreme Court proceedings on a Web site, and news organizations are allowed to tap into it for audio and video. UNIVERSITY RECONSIDERS POLICY TO LIMIT STATIONS
The University of Oregon has changed course and will not place limits on television stations’ rights to show football highlights. The university was considering letting stations broadcast only 20 seconds of highlights from Ducks games, but the negative feedback and possible legal difficulties posed by the policy forced them to abandon the idea, athletic director Bill Moos told The Associated Press on Aug. 8. When the proposal was unveiled in June, it included limiting TV highlights to 20 seconds for 48 hours after a game and 30 seconds for up to a week after a game, for everyone except ESPN and KEZI, the local ABC affiliate. Rights to clips aired a week after a game would have needed to be bought by the station, and reporters from those stations could have been stripped of their press credentials if the rules were violated. The university proposed the new rules after KVAL, a local television station, began showing lengthy clips of Duck football and interview footage. ESPN, which holds the broadcast rights to University of Oregon Duck games, then asked for new rules to restrict KVAL’s actions, university General Counsel Melinda Grier told the AP. “We’re hoping and feel confident through our conversations with the Oregon Association of Broadcasters that the media will police itself,” Moos told the AP. “We listened to the concerns broadcasters brought to us, and will continue a policy that is in the best interest of all parties involved.” The Society of Professional Journalists welcomed the university’s decision to leave its media policy unchanged. “We are thrilled that the University of Oregon administration is standing up for the public’s right to know,” Society President Ray Marcano said.