Gubernatorial candidate bars student journalists from marijuana presser

September 17, 2014

Student Press Law Center

Student journalists at Columbia College Chicago were turned away from an Illinois gubernatorial candidate’s press conference about medical marijuana because they weren’t considered part of the “working press,” Michael Bragg reports for the Student Press Law Center:

A press representative for Bruce Rauner, the Republican candidate for governor, told the Columbia College students and their professor, Curtis Lawrence, that the press conference on medical marijuana was open only to the “working press.” Rauner, who is running against Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, would not talk to the students, either.

Lawrence told the SPLC he asked Rauner to talk to the students as he was leaving the conference, but he said the candidate ignored him, not meeting his eyes before he was “whisked down the hallway.”

The students wanted to attend the presser for “Covering Politics,” a course at Columbia College Chicago that features live event coverage, Lawrence told the SPLC. They have been allowed to cover several meetings in Chicago before, including events with Quinn.

This isn’t the first time student journalists have been prevented from covering pot. In April, high school senior Abbey Laine was told she couldn’t write a story about medical marijuana for a student magazine in Lakeland, Florida.

Frank Webster, the school’s communications academy director, said the proposed article “didn’t fit our audience” because the publication is “primarily about marketing and (being) a mouthpiece for Lakeland High and Harrison School of the Arts.”