The trouble with shrinking media access

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.

7 replies
  1. Jett Rucker
    Jett Rucker says:

    The “truth-seeking” Trojan does its own censoring, too, including of fully paid advertising, such as that which the Committee for OPEN DEBATE of the Holocaust (CODOH) would like to place in its pages.

    Nope, CODOH, you can’t promote your dangerous ideas in the pages of The Trojan. Order rejected.

    The Trojan plays the same games as USC, Pac-12, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and all those censors. And on matters of far greater importance, too.

  2. Thekatman
    Thekatman says:

    I agree with Bill.

    But if you kids are really concerned about the lack of transparancy in reporting you should take a look at the President of the US, for he ran on providing transparancy in the all White House matters and in his administration and he has completely shut that down since day 1.

    Te college kids of today are known as The Debt Generation and I don’t understand why you are nojt writing your stories about Obama’s complete lack of protocol in the White House, his bypassing the Constitution ilieu of using presidential executive orders to pass push his agenda without congressional oversight, hjis lack of presidential leadership with getting a budget approved… His own party won’t pass a budget and hasn’t in 4 yrs.

    You kids are missing the boat on taking care of your future.
    The concern over USC’s injury reporting policies is iirrelevant in the greater scheme of things. This is not new. Most high profile FBS sthletic depts do not report injuries and are closed to the media.

    Go fight anoer battle, as this one doesn’t affect your life.

    The only folks who need to know the injuries list are the opponents and the odds makers in Las Vegas.

    • Bill N
      Bill N says:

      Anyone who reads the book “The Amateur” will understand why Obama has failed in so many areas and is very dangerous. The book was written by a Democrat who was the NY Times editor for 10 years and is based on interviews with over 200 people who close to Obama.

  3. Bill N
    Bill N says:

    This is an incomplete and biased opinion article that results in the wrong conclusion.

    It does not mention the fact that USC has had closed football practices during most of its history including the years that 9 of 11 national championships were won.

    It wrongly states that other conference foes only recently enacted similar policies prohibiting the reporting of injuries observed during in-season practices. In fact, 8 of the 12 Pac-12 schools have closed practices and several others restrict only the injury information. Many of these have had these restrictions for a long time. The only school that has open practices and doesn’t restrict injury info is Oregon State who is located in Corvalis which is of little interest to media.

    The arguments used are from the viewpoint of the media.

    It is a fact that many Division I football programs handle practices and reporting information differently and there is no NCAA or conference rule that requires a consistent policy, so there is a competitive disparity among programs. Most football programs assign staff to scour the internet in search of information about their opponents including injuries. This information is then used to put together game plans to take advantage of missing injured players or possibly target key players that have identified injuries.

    Rather than continue to expose USC football’s team to a competitive disadvantage by sharing more information than most of its competition, Lane Kiffin instituted a policy for the media not to share competition-sensitive information such as injuries.

    Unfortunately, instead of embracing this policy in return for the privilege of attending practices, the media has chosen to act like cry-babies and attempt to make Kiffin the bad guy.

    There is a simple solution so solve the real problem of inconsistent reporting and maintaining an equal and fair competitive environment. The NCAA (not a conference) should establish a standard injury reporting and media practice policy. Until that happens, schools like USC are forced to protect themselves and the media should talk about the real problem if they care.

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  1. […] but not unprecedented.  Daily Trojan editors at the University of Southern California noted in an editorial last week, “USC now prohibits the reporting of injuries observed during in-season practices– much […]

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