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SPJ leaders urge NFL, sponsors to uphold journalistic integrity

For Immediate Release:

Christine Tatum, President, (303) 881-8702
Beth King, Communications Manager, (317) 927-8000, ext. 211

INDIANAPOLIS The Society of Professional Journalists today sent letters to the National Football League and its 32 franchise owners, asking them to reconsider a plan by the NFL to require photojournalists covering games to wear red vests with Canon and Reebok logos on them.

Canon Inc. is an official NFL sponsor, and Reebok is owned by Adidas AG, the NFLs licensed outfitter. SPJ also sent letters to the companies, asking that they press the NFL to abandon the new rule, which is expected to take effect in August.

For the sake of the almighty dollar, the NFL is clearly willing to compromise press freedom and independence. The League should be ashamed," said SPJ National President Christine Tatum, an assistant features editor at The Denver Post. "Journalists should refuse to cover games before allowing themselves to become walking billboards. Defending a free press is a public service infinitely more valuable than play-by-play reporting from the sidelines.

It's bizarre and brash for the NFL to treat journalists as minions, components of a contractual arrangement between the league and its advertisers, said Andy Schotz, SPJs National Ethics Committee chairman. Any mandate for journalists to wear corporate ads greatly damages the credibility, integrity and neutrality of the working press and, if not revoked, could jeopardize coverage of NFL games.

SPJ encourages journalists to protest this new rule by writing NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell at:

National Football League
280 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017

SPJ champions journalism ethics to encourage the highest level of professional standards for journalists. SPJ's Web site features many resources to help journalists make sound ethical decisions. For more information, visit www.spj.org/ethics.

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. For more information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.


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