Restraining order against Wyoming newspapers is revoked
For immediate release
Kevin Smith, SPJ President, (304) 367-4864,
Karen Grabowski, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 927-8000 ext. 215,
INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists applauds a court decision to dissolve the temporary restraining order issued May 21 against the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and the Cheyenne Herald. The move lifts an arbitrary prior restraint on the news media that interfered with First Amendment rights and the public’s right to know information about a taxpayer-funded institution.
The order dissolving the temporary restraining order was entered Tuesday.
“The decision to remove the restraining order was the right one and we applaud the court for recognizing this,” SPJ President Kevin Smith said. “Preventing the paper from providing this information to the public does little good but to create more distrust toward government.”
A motion for a temporary restraining order was filed against the newspapers earlier this month by Laramie County Community College in an attempt to prevent the papers from publishing a story about LCCC President Darrel Hammon’s conduct on a 2008 student trip to Costa Rica. On May 21, District Judge Peter Arnold granted the motion, which barred the papers from publishing the information for at least 10 days. The Wyoming Tribune Eagle asked the judge to dissolve the order, and after journalism organizations – including the Society and the Wyoming Press Association – also spoke out against the prior restraint, the order was revoked.
The college was concerned the report, if published, would violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, which protects the privacy of students and parents by keeping education records confidential. Educational institutions are threatened with losing federal funding for FERPA violations. Arnold dismissed that argument as speculative.
The Wyoming Tribune Eagle will publish the report Wednesday, May 26, in addition to more information on the judge’s ruling. The Cheyenne Herald re-posted the internal report from LCCC and its article about the 2008 student trip to Costa Rica Tuesday.
SPJ leaders were encouraged to see the prior restraint removed, a critical step in maintaining the press’ role in reporting vital information to citizens and taxpayers.
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.