Newspaper fails to topple Ohio mayor’s interview ban

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A twice-monthly business newspaper has lost a lawsuit
filed against the mayor for banning city employees from speaking to its

U.S. District Judge Peter C. Economus, in a ruling May 16, said The
Business Journal
failed to show that the ban interfered with its First
Amendment right to publish stories questioning City Hall policies.

The Business Journal had asked the court to bar Mayor George McKelvey
from enforcing the interview ban.

The newspaper claimed the ban was imposed in retaliation for articles that
questioned the city's purchase of land for an arena without getting a formal

Publisher Andrea Wood today told the First Amendment Center Online that the
newspaper hadn't yet decided whether to appeal the ruling.

“We’re going to do what works best for the profession of journalism,” she
said. “We have to think, do we want to appeal and give the courts a chance to
uphold what we believe is a bad precedent?”

Wood also said she was disappointed with the news coverage that her
newspaper's case has received.

“Our case received very little coverage in the press compared with The
(Baltimore) Sun case,” she told the First Amendment Center Online. Wood
was referring to the Maryland newspaper's continuing legal challenge of Gov.
Robert Ehrlich's order barring state employees from contact with two Sun

“I don’t think word is getting out in the journalism community about how far
these things can reach,” Wood added.

She noted that her newspaper is smaller than Baltimore's, but said that the
Ohio case affected all of The Business Journal's reporters, not just a
few as in The Sun's case.

“Obviously, we're disappointed with the ruling, not only for how it impacts
the profession of journalism but also for how it impedes the free flow of
information so vital to democracy,” Wood said.

McKelvey’s office did not respond to a message left today with a

The Business Journal has a circulation of 10,000, covering a
five-county area in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.

First Amendment Center Online intern Chris Hamby contributed to this story.