Society of Professional Journalists Condemns Censorship Of Wyoming Newspapers

The Society of Professional Journalists has publicly condemned a Wyoming court for issuing a restraining order against two of that state’s papers: the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and the Cheyenne Herald.

The restraining was issued on behalf Laramie County Community College in the school’s ongoing efforts to prevent the two papers from publishing a story on college president Darrel Hammon’s (who is not this man) behavior during a 2008 trip to Costa Rica with students. The school was ostensibly concerned that reports on the trip would violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which maintains that education records be kept confidential. Both papers, however, assure that their reports would focus on Hammon’s actions and not the school’s students, their families or their education records. In fact, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle had initially planned to run the story without naming a single student.

In a release about the issue, the SPJ said that it “supports the staff of the newspapers and their continued dedication to the First Amendment and upholding the public’s right to know.” SPJ president Kevin Smith (who is not this man), added:

How a judge can believe that a greater public good is accomplished by withholding this information is baffling to SPJ and its more than 8,000 members. This is a clear violation of press rights, and SPJ stands behind the Wyoming papers in their attempts to present the truth.