A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists


By Quill

TV reporter must stay 300 feet away from man

A local television reporter in Florida must stay at least 300 feet from the man who claims he is being stalked by the reporter for a story, a Florida judge has ruled.

The series of stories by WFLA investigative reporter Steve Andrews involves multiple DUI arrests of Minh Ben Ross of Tampa. The 30-year-old cook has complained that Andrews has “harassed me and my lawyer repetitively with unwarranted questions” outside the Hillsborough courthouse. He says the reporter also has had him filmed without Ross’ knowledge. Ross says the reporter has also been “displaying me and treating me as a terrible individual” on newscasts.

The temporary injunction by County Judge Eric Myers was granted against Andrews on Dec. 5. Andrews said the injunction was “ridiculous” and an affront to the First Amendment.

“This is alarming. This is about stopping the press from covering the news,” Andrews said. Myers told The Tampa Tribune on Dec. 10, “That case is like any other case. It was heard, it was reviewed and I signed it.”

private organization must abide by FOI laws

The Oklahoma Silver Haired Legislature is subject to the Open Meeting and Open Records acts, according to the state attorney general, because it receives support from publicly funded agencies. The group is a private volunteer organization.

In the opinion, released Oct. 29, it was determined by the state attorney general that the group must abide by the acts because it “is supported at least in part by publicly funded State agencies.”

The private organization is modeled after the state legislature, and it is meant to give older citizens of Oklahoma a discussion forum for current issues. Legislators are elected by their peers and work with officials to improve conditions for the aged.

The Silver Haired Legislature receives support from four state agencies: the Tax Commission, Department of Human Services, State Treasurer and Office of State Finance.

Judge orders release of university records

The University of Georgia is required to make documents public that surround an investigation of possible sexual misconduct by the school’s marching band director, according to Clarke County Superior Court Judge Steve Jones. The decision held that there was a valid interest of the public to know the accusations of misconduct that were leveled against the University of Georgia employee.

The internal investigation records were requested by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Athens Daily News and The Red & Black, the University of Georgia’s campus newspaper. The investigation eventually cleared Dwight Satterwhite, the accused band director, of any wrongdoing with a student.

The University of Georgia graduate student filed a lawsuit to bar the documents from release after they were requested. The court disagreed, saying, “Where there is a legitimate public interest in information contained in the document, that privacy interest must yield to the policy interest in open government.”