The San Francisco 49ers are conducting a players-only minicamp at San Jose State University and certain decisions are leaving Bay Area media members a bit steamed. Alex Smith is leading the practice and he has informed the media that for Monday's practice, the media will not be allowed in to watch, although they apparently might be allowed in on Tuesday. The media has been outside watching and tweeting, but has not been able to get up close and personal.
The players reportedly made a donation to SJSU to use their facilities. In electing to use a public university for practices, the 49ers decision to close out the media on Monday has left some of the media less than pleased.
I strongly disagree w/ Alex Smith closing practice but, hey, that's the most prickly I've ever seen him. A good sign, in my humble opinion.
Fascinating to be arguing with a steely Alex smith when he was tossing media out of Spartan stadium
Told him I understand why he's doing this. But don't know if he has the right. Checking on that...
I initially wondered about the constitutional law applications of preventing the media from covering the practice up close and personal. However, based on a couple tweets from followers and also how the access has developed, I think it's safe to say the players would have sufficient legal standing to keep the media out.
One of the most basic theories would be the idea that college coaches at public universities have closed practices to the media in the past. Beyond that, the media is able to observe the practice, albeit from a distance, and will reportedly have access to the players after practice. Under the rights of the media, I'd imagine this is sufficient access. The media has certain rights, but if certain options are put in place to provide some level of access (as we're seeing by the ability of the media to tweet about practice), the issues decrease.
Of course, these arguments are under the assumption that this would ever end up in a court. I don't think it would ever reach that point, but it's always worth considering given the litigious society in which we live. And the media certainly has every right to push for more access. As Matt Barrows tweeted, if you're not going to push for more access, you might as well go into PR.