WAN Defends Sportswriters’ Rights


The World Association of Newspapers today passed a resolution condemning the tendency of sports organizations to restrict print and digital coverage of sporting events.

Such a resolution had been discussed at the WAN Congress last year, but the issue never made it to the full convention.

?We are under attack by event organizers,? said Dominic Young, director of editorial services for News International, in a presentation to delegates.

Over the past year, rights owners, with the backing of both American and European courts, have tried to limit coverage of sporting events from ?outside? media?those who are not explicitly contracted to cover the event, according to Phillip M. Stone of followthemedia.com.

This includes ?controlling how many pictures appear on websites?news agencies have been told they cannot have their own photographer on site and must buy pictures from a third party contracted to take pictures…They have tried to stop blogs, they have banned mobile coverage, they have told the media they cannot publish coverage that puts the sport in a bad light (so no coverage of a ?personal foul?)?the list goes on and on.?

Prior to the passing of the resolution, the most significant action taken by the media was to threaten a boycott of the Rugby World Cup, held in France last autumn, after organizers proposed to limit media sites to using 40 pictures a match and limiting any online locker-room or news conference video to 3 minutes or less. An agreement was eventually reached between the International Rugby Board and the media organizations and the boycott was averted. Similar disputes have led to media boycotts of international cricket matches, most recently the Test Match Series between Australia and Sri Lanka last November.

In June 2007, Louisville Courier-Journal reporter, Brian Bennett, who was providing blog updates on a NCAA baseball tournament game, was removed from the press box by the NCAA, which forbids live updates of games by those in attendance. The NCAA now allows bloggers to provide updates, but strictly limits the number of their posts.

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