WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Reporter Told He Cannot Talk about Politics in Public Library

Oct 30, 2018

TSPR' s southeast Iowa reporter Jason Parrott filled in for Jasmine Crighton for this week's program. Parrott told us he was recently at the public library in Hannibal, Missouri, interviewing a candidate for public office when they got kicked out for talking politics.

Parrott said he was taken aback by the request to leave. He ended up finishing the interview elsewhere.

Shop Talk panelist Will Buss said it seems asinine to ban a political discussion at a library. He understands people might want to respond when they hear a political discussion but they shouldn’t be allowed to shut it down.  He said this is another example of how some people are suspicious about reporters today.

Buss said that when he did “man on the street” interviews as a reporter, he always had to be careful about where he was allowed to go and he was careful not to set foot on the property of private businesses.

Panelist Rich Egger said libraries are sources of free and open information.  He said it seems odd such a place would prohibit discussions about politics.

Parrott said he often goes on the road and uses public libraries in southeast Iowa to interview candidates. He said he never encountered a problem before.  He wondered whether the rules were different in Missouri, but the Hannibal library director later apologized, telling him rules were misinterpreted.  She also told Parrott he was asked to leave because the interview got too loud and distracted one of the library’s employees.