OSU Refuses to Back Student Photographer

Photo by Jay Smith/The Lantern

UPDATE: Ohio State has announced they will not be charging Kotran, but he still plans to seek legal counsel to deal with a review by the school’s judiciary committee. Also, several high-profile journalists have pledged their support to Kotran.

We posted on Alex Kotran’s arrest last week and now it turns out he could be facing charges of criminal trespassing. But his school, Ohio State, has washed its hands of the situation, refusing to help him with legal assistance.

Kotran was photographing two cows that got loose last week as part of his job as a reporter for The Lantern when he was cuffed and detained. So the odd circumstances of this case are not only that he was working as a journalist at the time of the incident, but how can you criminally trespass on a public athletic field at a school you attend (and pay to go to)? The whole situation is asinine and wrong on so many levels.

The school said they cannot provide Kotran with assistance due to conflict of interest because all parties are affiliated with the university. OK, so if everyone is working for or attending OSU, then how about addressing it in house and acknowledging that charges are unwarranted?

Tom O’Hara, The Lantern’s adviser, says this:

“I find it odd that the university has the resources to pursue prosecution of a student who hasn’t done anything wrong, but it doesn’t have the resources to help defend a student who hasn’t done anything wrong.”

Former Washington Post editor Len Downie and OSU and Lantern alumni said this: “It is deeply disturbing to me as an alumnus of the School of Journalism,” and “I can understand the budget issues involved. But budget issues aside, in every other way, the school should be fully supportive of the student journalist.” Let’s hope Downie and other alums of the school write letters and make some noise about this.

Though I guess if you want to be realistic, coming up against authorities and bogus charges is a lesson every journalist needs to learn — though usually in the real world, media outlets are staunch proponents of journalists’ rights and will fight for their employees.

Article from The Lantern

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