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Legal question

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by BujuBanton, Mar 6, 2011.

  1. BujuBanton

    BujuBanton Member

    I'm dealing with a story about a public school neglecting the upkeep on its football stadium. The locker room in the stadium floods when it rains and the assistant coaches at the school don't have a locker room of their own so they change clothes in their cars before athletic periods or practices. It's a Class 3A school, so it's pretty ridiculous and the place has flooded for several years. Repairs are on the city's agenda this week and I would like to get a photo of the place flooded to hammer home the point.

    My question is: Is it illegal to get a photo of the locker room without permission? It rained here a lot over the weekend and it would've been a good time to get a brutally honest photo of the flooded room, but I'm worried it would be unlawful entry or something along those lines. Thanks in advance for your input.
  2. crimsonace

    crimsonace Active Member

    Interesting, because it's a public school and therefore public property.

    The general rule is, if you can see it from the street and take the photo from the street or a place accessible to the public (e.g., the parking lot), it's fair game. If it's out in the open at a public event, it's fair game. If not, you probably need permission to be on the premises.
  3. MileHigh

    MileHigh Moderator Staff Member

    Guessing the coaches aren't happy about it and want it fixed. Perhaps you could get permission from them to let you in.
  4. My J-school professors always said, "Shoot first, ask for permission later."

    Most of the public stadiums where I'm at are just left open throughout the day and people occasionally just use them to exercise. If that's the case where you're at, I'd just walk in and get the photo. It seems like the worst then can do is kick you out if it's not locked up or the middle of the night.
  5. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    I'd agree with this. If it's a place that is almost always open to the public, and used frequently by the public, it would be hard for them to argue that you're violating any sort of privacy law by photographing.
  6. BujuBanton

    BujuBanton Member

    The coach was just hired and has a nice resume. He was the one that told me about the assistants changing in their cars, etc. Another coach was their first choice for the job but he backed out a day or two before the announcement, which was on the school board agenda - so they were pretty embarrassed about it. I think the new guy understands that he's in a tough position and told me that they didn't hire him the first time because he would stand his ground and fight for changes to the consistently bad program. So I think he would let me in to take photos to help his case in getting the floor fixed and a place for the coaches to change, etc.
  7. I don't see a reason you should have to answer a question about how you got the photo if your concern is not getting the coach in trouble.
  8. Shaggy

    Shaggy Guest

    I had a soccer coach call me once and say "I would love for you to do a story about how shitty of a job our facilities people do on our fields." I went out there to inquire further and, yes, the fields were in terrible shape. The soccer coach gave me some golden quotes, and then he said "Go talk to the baseball coach, he'll tell you the same thing about his field."

    Went over to the baseball coach and he said. "No comment." After I was done talking to him, he deadpanned "I have a feeling my 'no comment' will say more than anything else I could've said, and I won't get in any trouble at all." He was so right.

    I got a response from the facilities director, and wrote the story. The athletic director was pissed, a facility guy I had never met before hunted me down at a game I was covering and chewed me out. But both of the coaches said things changed for the better almost immediately.
  9. Big Circus

    Big Circus Well-Known Member

    I thought this thread was going to be about fightin' sensimilla, makin' way for coke ta come.
  10. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    You can trespass on public property. Public parks have hours, for example. Public running tracks have hours, too. Public schools require you to buzz in and usually check in at the front office.
  11. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    1. This is not neglect. Stuff floods. If a home has a basement that flood, are the owners neglectful?

    2. Taking a photo almost never is illegal. Breaking into a school to take a photo would be. So you don't actually need permission to go into the school, you just need to do it at a time when you aren't having to pick a lock.

    3. I would think the coach would be leading you by the hand to get whatever you need.
  12. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    What Ace said.
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