Society of Professional Journalists Weigh In On Cow Photography Incident

Press Release-May 5, 2010

The Society of Professional Journalists, Central Ohio Pro Chapter, mailed a letter Wednesday condemning a decision of an Ohio State University police officer.

The letter expressed disappointment in Officer William Linton’s decision, on April 21, to detain student photographer Alex Kotran, who was then photographing the effort on campus to corral two cows that had escaped their trailer.

“As a student photographer, Mr. Kotran may not have the clout or credentials of a professional, but he is no less entitled here to First Amendment protection,” wrote Jonathan Peters, First Amendment Chairman of the local chapter.  “He had every right to take the photographs he did and to take them under those circumstances.”

Over the weekend, Ohio State University police chief Paul Denton wrote in an e-mail to The Lantern that he “consider[ed] the case an open and active investigation,” and now, although the university does not plan to file criminal charges, Mr. Kotran still must meet with police officers and appear before a student judiciary committee.

The Society of Professional Journalists expressed hope that the police chief would make amends and do his part to protect press freedom and the rights of all journalists to gather information.

“I urge [Chief Denton] to apologize to Mr. Kotran, and at the very least, to do all it takes to ensure this never happens again,” Peters wrote.

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