Here’s an update to a piece we did a week or so ago: PantherNOW at Florida International University appears to have resolved its conflict with its athletic department and is back to covering football, according to a Student Press Law Center report. The paper wrote a column criticizing FIU’s decision to block the publication from covering the team after writing several negative pieces over the past year.
According to the SPLC report, PantherNOW received its press passes from the school after the column ran, even though the university SWEARS it never blocked the publication from ANYTHING athletic related:
[Dalton Tevlin, the sports director at Florida International University’s student newspaper] said 12 minutes after the Aug. 29 article was posted online, Assistant Director for Athletic Communications Tyson Rodgers messaged him, telling him PantherNOW had full press credentials for the 2019-20 season. The paper has since resumed coverage of the team and was in the press box for the home opener.
Rodgers, however, denied his office ever withheld access. He said he texted Tevlin after he saw the article and told him their credentials were never held up.
“I texted him that morning and I said ‘hey Dalton your passes have never been revoked.’ We already had them made and sitting in the office ready to go for the first game,” Rodgers said.
Although Tevin said this wasn’t the first dust-up with the athletic department, the MO has always been the same: Freeze out the paper by just ignoring its requests. Rodgers admitted to nothing, other than occasionally maybe being a bad son:
Rodgers said his staff has lost two full-time workers, stretching his workload across all 18 FIU sports teams. He said every now and then he just misses a text and he has never intentionally ignored PantherNOW.
“I text back sometimes and sometimes I miss texts because I get 30 texts a day,” he said. “I even miss my mother’s texts. So it’s not just the media.”
At the end of the day, the paper is back giving its readers coverage on a key part of the school and the athletic department is back doing its job in providing access to media. As with everything else, we’ll keep an eye on this moving forward to see if things change when the spotlight drifts away from FIU.