Of streaking and the First AmendmentPosted: February 5, 2012
By Maria Torres
Journalists everywhere pull out all stops when a colleague’s freedom of the press is infringed. The case with Paul Isom has been no different.
As media advisor of the East Carolionian (the student paper at East Carolina University), Isom allowed the editors to publish graphic photos alongside the report of a streaking incident that occurred during halftime at the East Carolina University vs. University of Southern Mississippi football game in early November. School administration officials were quick to act against the editorial decision, going so far as to fire Isom while also supposedly teaching staff the lesson that “with freedom of the press comes a certain level of responsibility.”
While administration is busy spinning their reasons for firing Isom as something personnel-related, Isom isn’t fooled. He has received documents from the university that chronicle his employment and it seems to him that a majority of the documents he receives are related to the streaker incident.
For this reason, Isom has decided to appeal his termination. He, along with all of his supporters, is convinced his firing was unjust and that it crossed into First Amendment violation territory.
Clearly, the freedom of the press has been limited in this case. But was it wrong for the university to reprimand the paper for publishing graphic photos? Or should the students — and, of course, Isom — have been a little more discretionary?