Kentucky State Police say when they are conducting an investigation they don't want reporters putting out any information about the story until the agency issues its own news release. And reporters and news organizations that ignore this edict face the threat of being taken off the Kentucky State Police media distribution list.
News organizations such as RTDNA are criticizing the policy and the Shop Talk panelists also find fault with it.
Panelist Will Buss said if you censor the press – which is what the KSP is trying to do – you no longer have a free press. He said it’s ridiculous to suggest that journalists are not allowed to report on something they’re witnessing.
Buss said the policy smacks of rules you might find in a dictatorship.
Panelist Rich Egger concurred, saying it sounds like a policy from a totalitarian regime rather than from the U.S. He said Kentucky State Police are, in effect, saying, “We’re playing the game my way or I’m taking my ball and going home.”
Panelist Jasmine Crighton called the policy totally inappropriate. She said it’s chilling to see a government agency issuing orders to journalists on what they can report and when they can report it.
Crighton said the policy ultimately amounts to prior restraint.
Jasmine Crighton is News Director of NEWS3 at Western Illinois University and Will Buss is the Director of Student Publications at WIU.