Thursday, June 4, 2009

What Are You Trying to Hide?

Over the years, I've discovered the general public really doesn't seem to care when the media is denied access to certain events. I never really quite understood that. After all, we are your surrogates, and bad things can happen when they're done out of public view.

Be that as it may, there are a couple things you should know about.

WFMZ TV 69 in Allentown reports its photographer was kept out of Reading High School's Tuesday night commencement. The superintendent said coverage would not be allowed because the graduating students would need permission slips signed by a parent or guardian.

Please note that the ceremony was taped by the school district's cameras for its own cable television channel. On top of that, I'm sure there were dozens of still cameras inside the center where the commencement was held. And, I'm sure many of those photos are on the internet right now, which has a greater reach than WFMZ or any other television station. Did the parents give permission for the internet? I think not. This looks like a case of the superintendent having fun harrassing a television station.

The Hazleton Standard Speaker reports a reporter from its sister newspaper in Pottsville was removed from Shenandoah Valley High School's Monday night graduation ceremony. A photographer was allowed to stay. The superintendent's secretary said, according to the paper, that a "no press policy" had been passed.

Rememeber what happened in Shenandoah last year? Some high school kids beat a man until he died. Some pleaded guilty. Some were found guilty of minor charges. The governor wants a federal investigation. I'm guessing the newspaper was looking to do some story on how this has been an extremely difficult year in the Shenandoah Valley School District.

Regardless of the motive, the reporter should have been given access. The rule is this: The media has the same rights as the public. No more, but no less. These were public events, paid for by your tax dollars. You deserve better.