The office of the governor of Nebraska threatened to ban Daily Nebraskan reporters from the governor's press conferences last week after the University of Nebraska student newspaper revealed that a man who gives tours of the governor's mansion is a convicted murderer who lives at a nearby prison.
The governor's office later said it would allow Daily Nebraskan reporters to attend press conferences but would no longer send out e-mailed press releases to the newspaper, according to an article in the student newspaper.
The reaction came in response to a story in Thursday's edition of the Daily Nebraskan about a man convicted of second-degree murder who gives tours at the governor's mansion as part of a rehabilitation program.
Ashley Cradduck. deputy communications director to Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman, told the Daily Nebraskan that the governor's office wanted to cut ties with the student newspaper because staff there felt they were not given an opportunity to comment on the story before it was published.
"I wouldn't say that the story was inaccurate, but I would say some things were taken out of context," Cradduck was quoted as saying. "It's not entirely inaccurate, but it's not the full picture, either."
The story was picked up Friday by USA Today, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Omaha World-Herald.
The Student Press Law Center and Nebraska Sen. Tom White of Omaha rushed to the Daily Nebraskan's defense, according to the student newspaper.
"I hope every journalist and every editorial board in the state and every taxpayer realizes the freedom of speech violations here," Ian Russell, a legislative aide to Nebraska Sen. Tom White of Omaha, told the Daily Nebraskan. "When the governor's office goes and beats up on a college newspaper because they're doing their job, it's unbelievable."
You can read the Daily Nebraskan's editorial response to the governor's action here. You can also view a political cartoon about the incident here.
Other student newspapers may well want to comment on this apparent violation of student press freedom.