LHSAA, newspapers settle dispute
Photographers for The Times, the Baton Rouge Advocate, the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the Hammond Daily Star were asked to sign a consent form before shooting at the Ladies Top 28 Tournament.
The consent said they could shoot game action as long as photo posted on their Web sites were not made available for sale to the public. The LHSAA has a contract with Baton Rouge-based Musemeche Photography which sales photos over the Internet.
The photographers refused to sign (and rightly so) and were forbidden to enter the arena.
"Are you here to cover the tournament or exploit the kids?" was the reply I got from LHSAA commissioner Tommy Henry.
I waited for him to offer a "that's off-the-record," comment, but none came. For starters, the reason newspapers produce photo galleries is to provide greater content for readers. More photos gives an event more depth. And in reality, The Times sells very few photos to fans off the Web site.
Also, where was the LHSAA shoving consent forms to The Times photographers when we covered the Division I and Division III soccer finals at Independence Stadium. Musemeche was there shooting photos and none of the photographers had to sign anything.
The LHSAA picked a heck of a time to draw the line in the sand. It was wrong to draw it in the first place.
But, to hear Monroe News-Star managing editor Ken Stickney, it's like LHSAA was trying to cover up Watergate.
"The LHSAA tried to trample on the First Amendment rights of Louisiana newspapers by dictating how and what they could publish, as well as where they could publish it," he told the Associated Press.
That's stretching things a bit too far, don't you think? The LHSAA was allowing photographers to shoot to their heart's content. They just had to put the photos in the newspaper.
For a former journalist like Henry exalts that he is, he should have known that you never ask a journalist to sign anything when it comes to doing their job.