RTNDA Fights for Ohio Access

Even as the voters began to pour into the polls Tuesday, The Radio-Television News Directors Association continued to battle for reporters' access to polling places in Ohio.

A federal judge Monday upheld the ban levied by Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell on journalists interviewing voters or reporting from polling places.

RTNDA had written in support of an Akron Beacom Journal request for a temporary injunction. With RTNDA's backing, the paper was appealing that decision Tuesday.

“Denying the ability of the media, both broadcast and print, to accurately report on voting inside the polling place during the 2004 campaign ignores the basic tenet of the First Amendment and also denies the public the ‘eyes and ears’ of its representatives in the media to observe the performance of the process,” said RTNDA Regional Director Ed Esposito in a letter to Blackwell.

The secretary of State saw it differently. Responding to the lawsuits, Blackwell said: "“[A]llowing anyone inside the mandated 100-foot protection zone aside from voters and election officials would violate Ohioans’ right to vote in privacy—and I will not allow it….The news media have not only sued me in this frivolous case, they have sued by proxy the people of Ohio and the 45,000-plus hardworking poll workers who will be doing everything within their power…to ensure an orderly and efficient election.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.