Florida State University (a PUBLIC school) is privatizing their athletics department. What will that mean for journalists?

In June of 2019, Florida State University in Tallahassee announced the creation of a private nonprofit to oversee its athletics department. This change, which goes into effect in the fall, will shield athletics officials from having to comply with public records laws. Now, some records will no longer be public — including internal financial documents, emails, and text messages.

How can FSU get away with that? Short answer: Florida law is weird. The bad news is FSU isn't the first public school in the state to do this. The good news is it can't happen in other states. (See full story for more detail.)

What are student journalists going to do? Listen to our (12-minute) podcast to hear it in their own words.

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Q: One of my photographers took a photo of some school employees smoking outside the school lunchroom. Can we publish the photo or would that be invading their privacy?

A: School employees have much the same privacy rights as anyone else. There are certain places (bathrooms, private office, other private spaces not generally accessible to the public, etc.) where they will have a reasonable expectation of privacy that must be respected. On the other hand, if the smoking area is in a place that is generally visible to the public with the naked eye, there would be no legal expectations of privacy when it comes to snapping photos. Also, if they were violating the school’s smoking policy or local law, the story starts to become more newsworthy -- which is the big defense to invasion of privacy claims -- and privacy concerns diminish.

Here's a good guide for photographers on the topic.

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