Calumet receives curt call
February 9, 2015 • 994 views
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Dr. Rick Boyer, MCC Biology instructor and Math and Science department coordinator, telephoned the Calumet newsroom on December 10 to voice his displeasure at having his photograph placed in a Calumet article.
Boyer has also been chosen to be interim dean of the college for the 2015-2016 academic school year.
The December 10 edition of “The Calumet” included a story on page two titled “MCC Receives Grants.” Along with the story was a headshot photo of Boyer, whose department had received a grant of $38,000.
Calumet editor-in-chief Mary Mason answered the phone and attempted to explain the use of the photograph. She was hung up on during her explanation.
Calumet editor-in-chief Mary Mason
According to Mason, she answered the phone, “Calumet?” as usual. She says that, without asking whom he was speaking to, Boyer stated who he was and that he wanted to know why his picture was used in the newspaper.
Mason then explained that it was used “in connection with an article that your name was in.” Boyer then told Mason that she must obtain consent before she used his or anyone else’s picture.
Mason says Boyer hung up on her while she was explaining. “I was angry. I felt insulted because he had spoken down to me and I didn’t deserve it. I was caught off guard because I was surprised that a faculty member would speak to a student that way.”
MCC Biology instructor Rick Boyer
When asked for an interview, Mr. Boyer replied in an e-mail, “I do not wish to do an interview because I do not think the phone call requesting to not use my picture merits a story.”
Frank LoMonte of the Student Press Law Center
Mr. Frank D. LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, calls it a “very strange reaction.” He says, “When someone either (a) goes out into a public space or (b) does something newsworthy, even if it is only very minor news to the local community, then that person has no grounds to object about being pictured in a newspaper or on a news broadcast. There is no “invasion of privacy” in showing someone’s face, or in discussing someone’s work activities, especially not activities in connection with a government job, which is a matter of public interest.”
LoMonte also states, “it would be unconstitutional for any state to try to restrict the use of names and faces in connection with news coverage. While a professor has a valid complaint if his face is used without consent in a commercial endorsement for a local restaurant, he has no basis to object at being identified in connection with a news or feature story. This is a very unusual and over-the-top reaction.”
Calumet Cartoonist Shannon Voss
MCC sophomore and Calumet cartoonist Shannon Voss was also in the newsroom when the call came in. “Mary handled it well,” she said, “very professionally.” Voss added, “Had it been me that answered the call I probably would have hung up and cried.”
Calumet Adviser Jim Compton
Jim Compton, teacher of Composition, Film, and Literature, and adviser of the Calumet was also in the room at the time of the phone call.
Compton said, “I noticed that Mary was having a difficult time on the phone trying to explain. She wasn’t being allowed to speak at any length to answer whatever the concerns were on the other side of the phone.”
He adds that in order to prevent an incident like this from happening again there needs to be “some sort of dialogue with campus where we can talk to faculty, staff, administration, students and explain what a newspaper is, what it’s for, what it can publish, and the difference between editorializing and news and to make sure people understand that the Calumet isn’t attacking anyone, we’re just reporting information.”
Compton added, “We are all on the same side, we are all part of this campus.”
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, “Photography, like other art forms, is a type of speech, so a school cannot punish you for the message conveyed by your photograph (presuming that it is not obscene).”