Newspaper does not have to comply with open-records law, official rules

TEXAS -- The student newspaper at the University of Texas at Tyler\nwas handed a victory by the state attorney general's office, which\nruled June 19 that the state's open-records law did not require\nthe newspaper to release reporters' notes and recordings from\nan investigation into alleged misconduct by student government\nofficials.

Shortly after The Patriot ran a story March 19 detailing alleged\ncampus election law violations, student government president Aimee\nGriffy filed a state Public Information Act request asking newspaper\neditor Melissa Tresner to turn over materials she compiled during\nher investigation.

Griffy argued that the paper's staff members were state actors\ncovered by the state's open-records law because the paper is funded\nin part through student activity fees.

But Tresner contested the request, claiming that compelling\nher to hand over the material violated her First Amendment newsgathering\nprivilege.

Split Personality

College journalism professors and media advisers often instruct fledgling journalists to go to great lengths to ensure that their stories are accurate and fair.

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\n ''If your mother says she loves you, check it out,'' is a mantra commonly heard in journalism classes nationwide.

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\n But what happens when a school believes that ''checking it out'' conflicts with its disciplinary code?

Editor fights punishment for content decision

GEORGIA -- A student newspaper editor at the Georgia State University has vowed to fight sanctions imposed on him by the administration for choosing not to run certain letters to the editor.

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\n Brad Pilcher, former opinion section editor, and Stephen Ericson, former editor in chief of The Signal, Georgia State's student newspaper, were each given disciplinary probation for violating the ''orderly climate'' and ''freedom of expression'' sections of the code of conduct.

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\n Under the terms of their probation, they are prohibited from holding an office or taking an active role in any campus organization for six months.

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\n The punishments came after several Muslim students and Georgia State's Muslim Student Association filed a complaint with the dean of students' office, claiming that the editors discriminated against Muslim, Arab and pro-Palestinian points of view by refusing to print three letters to the editor supporting the Palestinian perspective in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

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\n Pilcher said The Signal did not publish the letters because of space constraints and because they did not meet the paper's stated length and style requirements.

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\n The original complaint also alleged that Ericson, one of the paper's reporters and The Signal itself were responsible for what was described as biased coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict in the newspaper.

KC Star fights curators for access to audits

MISSOURI -- A state circuit judge denied a newspaper's request in May for immediate disclosure of the University of Missouri System's internal audits.

The Kansas City Star filed a lawsuit against the system's board of curators in 1998 after the board rejected requests for the records, which include all financial, operational, compliance and investigative audits.