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Home > SPJ News > Golf and tennis associations’ background checks for journalists are too intrusive

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Golf and tennis associations’ background checks for journalists are too intrusive

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
5/17/2002


CONTACT:
Al Cross, SPJ President, 502/648-8433 or across@mis.net

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Society of Professional Journalists and one of its chapters, the Press Club of Long Island, are objecting to the U.S. Golf Association's new policy of background checks for journalists who want to cover the U.S. Open at Bethpage State Park on Long Island from June 13 through 16.

SPJ also is taking issue with similar demands being imposed on journalists by the U.S. Tennis Association for its U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows, N.Y., from Aug. 27 through Sept. 9.

In a letter delivered today to USGA Executive Director David Fay, SPJ leaders said the association’s demands that journalists wanting to cover the open allow USGA to examine "any and all records" relating to them, and waive all liability for use of such records, go far beyond reason.

"These demands may be the most intrusive made of journalists at any sporting event in this country. They could lead to the disclosure of private information, such as medical and financial data, and could be interpreted as harassment," wrote Al Cross, president of SPJ, and Carl Corry, who works for the Long Island Business News and is print-media vice president of the Press Club of Long Island.

"Journalists gladly document their identities and employment to prevent others from masquerading as representatives of media outlets," Cross and Corry wrote. "This procedure has proven sufficient even after Sept. 11 at events requiring much tighter security, such as President Bush's visits to military bases."

Cross, political writer and columnist for The (Louisville) Courier-Journal, said today that when he covered Bush's visit to Fort Campbell, Ky., in November, he merely had to provide a photo ID and a letter on company stationery confirming his employment. "We see no reason why the USGA and the U.S. Open require any more security than that," he and Corry said in their letter.

A similar letter is being sent to Rick Ferman, executive director of the U.S. Tennis Association. A copy of the letter to the U.S. Golf Association follows.

In writing the golf association, SPJ is adding its voice to protests by the Associated Press Sports Editors and six news outlets – The Associated Press, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, The Washington Post and Tribune Co., which owns Newsday, based on Long Island.

The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. The organization is the nation's largest and most broad-based journalism organization, dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.

-END-

Julie F. Grimes, SPJ Deputy Director, Society of Professional Journalists
3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208-4045 * 317/927-8000 ext. 216, jgrimes@spj.org

Letter from SPJ to U.S. Golf Association



May 16, 2002

David Fay, Executive Director
The United States Golf Association
P.O. Box 708, Liberty Corner Road
Far Hills NJ 07931

Dear Mr. Fay:

The Society of Professional Journalists and its Press Club of Long Island chapter, representing hundreds of journalists in the New York metropolitan area and more than 9,000 nationwide, object to the USGA’s new policy on background checks for journalists covering the U.S. Open.

SPJ understands the need for tighter security to safeguard our nation’s treasured events, such as the Open, but there is a clear difference between establishing the identities of journalists and demanding information that has no reasonable bearing on public safety. The USGA’s requests that journalists allow you to examine “any and all records” relating to them, and waive all liability for use of such records, goes well beyond reason. These demands appear to be the most intrusive made of journalists at any sporting event in this country. They could lead to the disclosure of private information, such as medical and financial data, and could be interpreted as harassment.

Journalists gladly document their identities and employment to prevent others from masquerading as representatives of media outlets. This procedure has proven sufficient even after Sept. 11, and even at events requiring tighter security, such as President Bush’s visits to military bases. We see no reason why the USGA and the U.S. Open require any more security than that, so we respectfully ask you to reconsider your policy. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for dialogue.

Sincerely,

Al Cross
President, Society of Professional Journalists

Carl Corry
Vice President/Print
Press Club of Long Island

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Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center
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