Holy cow – Ohio State police won’t mooove on from dispute with student photographer

The Ohio State University police’s well-informed decision to not file criminal charges against the photojournalist who was detained while covering the escape of two very angry cows on OSU’s campus should have brought the issue to a close. Right?

Not quite.

The Lantern is reporting that an Ohio State police report claims the press pass Alex Koltran had on him at the time of his arrest was “not official” and “fraudulent” — because it was signed by the photo editor and not the paper’s faculty adviser, a stipulation put in place by School of Communication. In a May 25 editorial, the Lantern makes it clear that the students do have the right to issue press passes that are just as valid as the faculty-issued versions:

This is the bottom line: The Lantern is a student newspaper. Students produce and edit the content, students manage the newspaper, and students are ultimately held responsible for the newspaper and the actions of its staff. University administrators don’t have the jurisdiction to tell us how our newspaper operates.

It is absurd to say that students are not allowed to sign press passes for a student-run newspaper. Quite the contrary, only students should be able to issue credentials for our newspaper. Our editors have always decided who gets to represent the newspaper, and they will continue to take advantage of that privilege.

The Lantern‘s explanation of the situation makes sense. The First Amendment gives student editors at a public institution the right to make editorial judgments without interference from university officials. It would tread on that editorial discretion to make the university the gatekeeper of who is and isn’t a recognized part of the newspaper staff. But the explanation of the press pass’s validity is unnecessary. As Lantern Adviser Tom O’Hara tells the newspaper, whether Koltran had a press pass, or was even a member of the media, shouldn’t be part of the discussion:

“What’s bizarre about all this is Alex’s status with The Lantern is irrelevant. He was a student taking photographs from public property,” O’Hara said.