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Legislator proposes banning media’s use of certain photos

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    NMU         NEVADA         Prior Restraints         Jul 12, 2000    

Legislator proposes banning media’s use of certain photos

  • A state assemblyman announced his intention to pass legislation restricting the use of photographs under unspecified circumstances.

A state assemblyman announced on July 6 in Carson City that he had requested the drafting of a bill that would ban a newspaper’s ability to publish certain photographs, according to reports in the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Douglas County Record-Courier.

Assemblyman Lynn Hettrick (R-Gardnerville) said that his bill draft request came from a constituent who felt he was unfairly portrayed in stories and pictures run in the press, according to the Review Journal. Hettrick acknowledged that his bill would face First Amendment hurdles but claimed that his constituent maintains the right to have his issue heard.

Hettrick’s proposed bill would “restrict use by newspapers of photographs of persons under certain circumstances,” according to the Review-Journal.

Nevada Press Association Executive Director Kent Lauer noted that the bill “should be dead on arrival at the Legislature because it’s a blatant violation of the First Amendment.”

The constituent who allegedly prompted Hettrick to sponsor the legislation is Douglas High School teacher Dan Paterson, who was involved in a dispute with his daughter’s basketball coach during a game. According to Hettrick’s comments in the Review-Journal, Paterson complained that the incident was blown out of proportion by the Record-Courier in a Feb. 5 story about the dispute, Paterson’s guilty plea to a misdemeanor battery charge, and his agreement to undergo an anger management evaluation.

The newspaper also published a photograph of Paterson that he considered unflattering. “He (Paterson) said the papers ran a mug shot that made him look like a criminal,” Hettrick told the Review Journal.

Record-Courier editor Sheila Gardner told the Review Journal that Paterson never contacted the newspaper with a complaint.


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