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Issues for possible discussion

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Journalistically, it is been an interesting week for discussion issues.

Two commercial issues and one scholastic event come to mind.

In Missouri, according to a SPLC News Flash, a school confiscated a student’s photos of an event in which a student was injured, would not allow the photographer to publish in print or online any shots of the fight and have not returned them to the student. According to the report, the school argued privacy issues were involved. In addition to raising excellent ethical and legal issues, the situation might be an excellent discussion starter about developing a staff policy about handling police or administration requests for images, audio or other forms of gathered information.

• In Ohio, a story in the Plain Dealer raises interesting copyright issues. Earlier this year, the paper reported – and photographed – a county official being led away in manacles. The charge was corruption in office. The photo, page one material, since has been used on political ads opposing members of the official’s party who are running for office, trying to tie them to him. Plain Dealer Editor Susan Goldberg said, in the story, “Pulling our photo out of this context and having it stand alone is improper use — even if it is credited. The larger issue here is that our work be portrayed fairly and in the context in which it was presented to the public. In addition, we need to avoid being used by a political campaign as their partisan mouthpiece, which is what we are seeing here.”

• Nationally, the U. S. Supreme Court heard arguments Oct. 6 about Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, a group that protests at funerals and has a history of anti-homosexual activity. The groups claims its First Amendment rights to speak out and opponents urge the Court to rule that funerals should be off-limits to protest. A myriad of First Amendment discussion threads exist.

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