The Daily Egyptian and WSIU, after being subpoenaed for all photographs taken of Halloween weekend, published and unpublished, wants to fight the Jackson County State’s Attorney’s order because several statutes and privileges would be compromised if the newspaper complied.

By Gus Bode

State’s Attorney Mike Wepsiec had a subpoena hand-delivered to Daily Egyptian managing editor Lloyd Goodman and employees of other local media, on Nov. 2, commanding them to surrender reprints of all photographs taken on the evenings of Oct. 28, 29 and early morning Oct. 30. The reason for the order is to assist the state’s attorney’s office and Carbondale Police Department in a joint investigation of property damage over Halloween weekend. The photographs would then be used in identifying and prosecuting those involved in any illegal activities.

Local television stations KFVS, WSIL, WPSD, WSIU have all been issued subpoenas for material in addition to the Daily Egyptian and Southern Illinoisan newspapers. Only the DE and WSIU have elected to fight the order.

The Daily Egyptian’s basis for wanting to fight the order consists of the fact that both the First Amendment qualified privilege and Illinois Reporter Privilege Statute include provisions for protecting media rights in these situations. And, the above Constitutional and statutory privileges state that before materials can be legally demanded, the three following conditions must be present:An exhaustion of alternative sources of information, some overwhelming purpose will be served and the material sought is highly relevant. We believe those conditions have not been met.


The newspaper also believes that its reporters and photographers have a right to collect information without becoming an investigative arm of law enforcement. The DE also has a safety concern for staff members in the future if these photos are just surrendered without a full hearing of all the issues. Besides all the statutes and privileges, how could DE staff members effectively do their jobs reporting the news if there is a possible safety concern due to surrendering these photos or those taken in the future.

If the DE photos are taken for the above stated purposes, the paper is being used to do the Carbondale Police Department’s job. By using DE materials to prosecute students and others alike, the newspaper would be forced into the role of being something it isn’t. This student newspaper fills many roles, including informing the campus and community, serving as a journalism laboratory and giving students practical newspaper experience. Playing police department is not one of them.

Besides the dates of the photographs and footage, the police department has not stated specifically what it wants. One of the newspaper’s main contentions is that the police department is attempting to gather a grab bag of photos in hope of pulling out something with which to prosecute.

The DE believes the photos should not be surrendered. Failing that, we urge students, University officials and legal counsel to support the DE’s position that a full hearing of all issues involved should occur before any ruling is made about whether these photographs should be surrendered.