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Education Queen’s University revokes campus paper’s media credentials

A student walks on the Queen’s University campus in Kingston on Feb. 13, 2013.

LARS HAGBERG/The Globe and Mail

Officials at Queen's University temporarily revoked media credentials from its student newspaper after it wrote a story critical of the athletic department's voting process for team awards last spring.

Editors of the Journal, which is autonomous from the university, were told by the athletics department last month they were being approved for only one pass for a reporter to sporting events for the 2014-15 school year, and none for photographers. The paper had requested and received eight media passes – four for reporters, four for photographers – in the two years prior.

Nick Faris, the paper's editor-in-chief, said he was told in a meeting with the athletics department that the key reason for the denied passes was a story he wrote in March that detailed how the university redid a vote for "team of the year," with a new voting panel, resulting in the women's rugby team winning instead of men's rugby.

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"They have a misconception or misunderstanding or ignorance of the Journal's mandate and what we're here to do," Mr. Faris said.

Shortly after the story was published, Jeff Downie, the associate director of athletics at Queen's, expressed the department's "profound disappointment" in the paper's story in a letter to Mr. Faris, saying the decision "to sensationalize an administrative procedural error over consideration of the impact of doing so on the individuals involved, does not reflect well on the spirit and mutual respect of a positive working relationship" and that the department would be "re-evaluating [their] relationship, and the privileged access [they] provide the Journal moving forward."

A spokesperson for Daniel Woolf, principal of Queen's University, told The Globe he was unavailable for comment, although he said on Twitter he is "looking into this issue."

Late Thursday, the athletics department said on Twitter it will provide the media passes as requested. "Let's move forward," the tweet said. As of late Thursday, Mr. Faris hadn't heard from the athletic department directly.

Mr. Faris said the paper was just trying to practise good journalism with its story, which detailed how the department held a second vote with new panel members for a team award after the school removed one of the nominees from consideration due to a disciplinary infraction.

"We're just doing our jobs as reporters, as journalists, as a campus newspaper," Mr. Faris said.

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