by Robert Stewart, Director; Professor
Earlier this quarter student journalists from across the state gathered here in Athens to compare notes on difficulties they’ve faced when trying to do their job on Ohio college campuses. Part of the day was spent drafting a resolution calling on university administrators to comply with Ohio laws requiring transparency.
Today, the national RTDNA board endorsed that same resolution. Here’s the press release:
WASHINGTON, March 17, 2011 — The Radio Television Digital News Association endorses a resolution recently produced by the Ohio Sunshine Summit calling for officials at public institutions — most notably within the University System of Ohio — to make business open and available to the public and student media organizations.
The resolution was produced after an alleged series of problems with state university campus administrators not following the Ohio Sunshine Law.
According to the Sunshine Summit, attendees documented numerous instances in which public information has not been made available promptly. Through these access issues, the Sunshine Summit concluded there are two main problems across Ohio public campuses: public records and access.
The Ohio Sunshine Summit attendees cited the use of financial and legal manpower and stalling techniques to thwart student journalists from their public access and called for the end of these practices.
“The Ohio Sunshine Summit body urges compliance with Ohio Sunshine Laws consistently at every public university in the state,” read part of a statement released by the Summit. “We believe it is in the public’s best interest for student media to be afforded the same rights as their professional counterparts and as dictated by law… we urge our respective institutions and all those within the University System of Ohio to dissolve the culture of hostility that has developed toward student journalists.”
The resolution was agreed upon by more than 100 student and professional journalists from across Ohio at the first-ever Ohio Sunshine Summit held Saturday, Feb. 26, at Ohio University.
“RTDNA is pleased to support this resolution as it is squarely in line with that for which our organization stands,” said RTDNA Chairman Mark Kraham. “Actions that “bend” the Sunshine Laws pose a danger to the freedoms all journalists should enjoy and jeopardizes the ability for the public to have complete access to necessary information. I am especially encouraged to see student journalists taking a stand in this matter.” [emphasis added]
I am extremely proud of the students from across the state of Ohio who came together in late February to tackle what has become a source of great frustration. They showed tremendous leadership on the issue, not only for other student journalists but for professionals all across the state — and now the nation.