When USC instituted a new football practice policy in August barring media members from reporting injuries, it joined a number of its Pac-12 counterparts in the clampdown of information in the name of maintaining a competitive advantage.
USC now prohibits the reporting of injuries observed during in-season practices — much like conference foes, such as Oregon, UCLA and Washington, which have recently enacted similar policies. The trend is one in which journalists are discouraged and even prevented, by the threat of banned access, from reporting on certain subjects.
Though the schools establishing these measures have legitimate reasons for exercising discretion, stonewalling the media from objective, thorough reporting brings a bevy of consequences and sets a poor example for other institutions and organizations to follow.
For one, restrictions on reporting result in seemingly endless speculation and misinformation and create an environment in which accurate information and truth fall in favor of message board scuttlebutt and social media rumors. This also creates an unfair situation for fans who, as de facto stakeholders in the sports institutions they support, deserve to know accurate, up-to-date information.
Second, this trend toward non-transparency sets a dangerous precedent for the continued and selective stonewalling of media reporting beyond just athletics.
In several respects, the media represents the eyes and ears of the public and serves as watchdogs for institutions, including athletic programs and their teams. The willingness of a highly respected institution such as USC to block subjects of pertinent discussion fosters a negative attitude toward the media and further encourages organizations to present selective truths.
Where exactly is the line drawn? What happens if institutions indulge their desires to deem certain news as reportable or non-reportable? What happens to the reporters who want to ask the hard questions but are threatened to be kicked out?
As a publication looking to report the objective truth, the Daily Trojan does not agree with the continued efforts of the USC athletic department and institutions around the nation to keep publicly relevant information behind closed doors.Organizations should aim to level the playing field with transparency rather than keeping facts in the dark.
Staff editorials are determined by the editorial board. Its members include Elena Kadvany, Nicholas Slayton, Jennifer Schultz, Eddie Kim, Joey Kaufman and Sean Fitz-Gerald.