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Media win concessions from MLB in photo dispute

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March 7, 2008  ·   Media organizations sat down with representatives from Major League Baseball on Wednesday in an attempt…

March 7, 2008  ·   Media organizations sat down with representatives from Major League Baseball on Wednesday in an attempt to resolve a dispute over new conditions for credential applications that members of the press must submit to be able to cover a league event.

Some of the objectionable restrictions include: a seven-photo limit on photos that may be displayed online from each game; restrictions on recording audio and video from 45 minutes prior to a scheduled game until the game is finished; prior written notice of the intention to display non-text accounts; and prohibiting game photographs to be used in a photo gallery.

After the meeting, the league agreed to allow the use of photo galleries and more than doubled the number of photographs that can be used online from a single game. Baseball officials also agreed that certain games deserved more coverage than others and that they will discuss changing the 72-hour limit on archiving multi-media.

“While we still have some fundamental disagreements over any restrictions, we applaud MLB’s willingness to meet with us as we navigate the complexities of new media,” the Associated Press Sports Editors said in a statement. “We will continue to talk and believe we can get this resolved before the end of the season.”

Others at the meeting included AP Sports Editor Terry Taylor; Mike Fannin, the managing editor for sports and features at the Kansas City Star; Editor Tim Franklin of the Baltimore Sun; Editor Henry Freeman of The Journal News in White Plains, N.Y.; and Garry Howard, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s assistant managing editor for sports.

Jonathon Dube, president of the Online News Association, wrote a letter to Commissioner Allan G. “Bud” Selig earlier in the week in which he explained how the restrictions would “interfere with our members’ ability to do their jobs as journalists and cover news of public importance.”

Many other news associations and publications, including Sports Illustrated and The New York Times, have denounced the restrictions with statements and letters of protest calling for negotiations.

National Press Photographers Association President Tony Overman also expressed his concerns to Selig.

“Your new terms impose a form of prior restraint on the use of visual images that will negatively impact the editorial independence of our members and the press as a whole,” Overman wrote.

Alanna Malone

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