Minn. college paper objects to rock band’s seizure of journalist’s photo memory card

MINNESOTA — The student newspaper at St. Cloud StateUniversity is considering suing a rock band becauseits security personnel confiscated a photographer’s memory card and “manhandled” a reporter whowas covering the concert, the paper’s adviser said. The GrammyAward-winning band Evanescence performed for a 4,400-member audience at the St.Cloud university Feb. 20. The University Chronicle sent photographerChing Fung and reporter Jay Corn to cover the concert, which was arranged by thepublic school’s University Program Board. During Evanescence’s fifthsong, the audience “was going nuts,” raising their lighters to light up thegym-turned-concert venue in Halenbeck Hall. During the song, Fung photographedthe audience, not the band, until band security confronted him, UniversityChronicle editor Eric O’Link said.The band’s security demanded Funghand over the memory card in his digital camera because they claimed he brokethe band’s policy prohibiting journalists from taking photos of the band afterthe third song. Fung offered to leave the concert, delete photos taken after thethird song and even delete all of the photos. Band security threatened to haveFung arrested unless he handed over the memory card, Fung said. Fung, a computernetworking major, handed over the memory card. Band security also searched hisbag and coat and told him to leave the concert. In a complaint filedwith the St. Cloud State University Public Safety Department on Feb. 22, Fungsaid the paper’s visuals editor, Adam Masloski, told him there were “nophotographing restrictions.” According to the complaint, the University ProgramBoard told Masloski there were no restrictions on photographers; however, at theconcert, University Program Board Concert Committee Coordinator Ryan Meintsinformed Fung he could only take photos of the band during the first threesongs, according to the complaint. After the incident with Fung, bandsecurity “pushed around” Corn, who was attempting to interview the rockers asthe band left the stage, O’Link said. Wind-Up Records, the independentrecord label that represents Evanescence, defended the three-song rulebecause they said it is accepted industry-wide and applies to journalists at every level,student or professional. “We stand by our commitment to supporting thepress,” said a Wind-Up Records spokesman, who requested not to be identified.”In this instance, a student photographer was taking pictures knowingly whenthey were not supposed to. The actions of the band’s road management have beenevaluated following that evening and actions have been taken. I can understandthe need to educate people [about media rights], but at the same token, it willbe a real shame if Evanescence is a victim.”After the concert ended,O’Link went to the concert hall to retrieve the $70 memory card. He hoped thesituation was a misunderstanding and wanted to resolve it in a “reasonablemanner.”When George Micalone, concert adviser for the University ProgramBoard, asked the band’s production manager for the memory card, the request wasdenied. O’Link left the concert empty-handed.”The fact thatthey decided to pay hardball and say ‘screw you’ is unfortunate,” O’Link said.”Everybody here is pretty upset that private security people could take the lawinto their own hands.” The paper’s adviser, Michael Vandie, contactedthe Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, which sentWind-Up Records a letter requesting the memory card be returned. “If thephotographer did do something improper, taking his memory card was not anappropriate response,” said SPJ chapter President Jeffrey Kummer. “There wereother actions the security guard could have taken.” The UniversityChronicle received the memory card from Wind-Up Records on Feb. 26. As faras O’Link could tell, the card was undamaged. Fung said no photographs were deleted.