Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Associated Press blasts Kentucky athletics for denying student journalists access to players

As the Western Courier recently published, the Associated Press Managing Editors (APME) and the Associated Press Sports Editors organizations both have blasted University of Kentucky athletics for revoking the student newspaper's access to players.

After Kentucky freshman forward Anthony Davis Tweeted a welcome to walk-ons Brian Long and Sam Malone, Aaron Smith, managing editor of the Kentucky Kernel student newspaper, sought confirmation of that news from the players themselves. So he looked up their phone numbers in the school directory and contacted them, said Kernel Editor-in-Chief Taylor Moak.

Then DaWayne Peevy, associate athletic director of Media Relations, contacted Smith to inform him that the newspaper was no longer invited to a special, one-on-one media interview with the players the next day because Smith had asked the players for interviews without first getting permission from Media Relations.

APME president Hollis Towns wrote Kentucky Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart that the action “amounts to no less than an attempt to bully the newspaper into submission and to censor news concerning operations of the University of Kentucky athletic department.”

Meanwhile, Student Press Law Center attorney Adam Goldstein said the university's actions boil down to one.

“People seem to be struggling with the nuances of athletic regulations, but the simple question at the core is: Can the government punish someone for asking a question?” Goldstein said. “Any answer that defends Media Relations for what they did here requires you to answer in the affirmative. The idea that punishing people for asking questions should ever be OK is irreconcilable with any First Amendment precedent in history.”