Thousands were watching a panel discussion on hurricane awareness online Wednesday evening when event organizers and a Residence Life coordinator told Knight News to turn off its live feed.
Ahead of Hurricane Irma, the University of Central Florida sought to inform students about how to prepare and what university policies are in the event of an evacuation order. The Campus Activities Board hosted the event which was attended by UCF Police Officer Victoria Scott and housing safety coordinator Alan Hamaoui as panelists.
Knight News, which has covered the storm extensively on social media, was invited to take part in the panel to update students on when the storm is expected to hit Central Florida.
But the student news organization fell into trouble after Kyle Swenson, its editor-in-chief, livestreamed the event on Facebook. Karli McGregor, CAB’s special events director, said that was not allowed because Knight News is not an “accredited” organization.
It is unclear what she meant by this, but that was not the only explanation that was given. Hamaoui claimed that he is not allowed to represent the university on camera without the permission of a public information officer.
“We have guidelines over who can speak to the media,” Hamaoui said. “We didn’t know you’d be bringing a camera in here.”
The full video can be seen below. The incident begins at 6:00.
WATCH LIVE» Campus Activities Board holds hurricane awareness event after UCF cancels classes
Posted by KnightNews.com on Wednesday, September 6, 2017
Office of Student Involvement Director Shane Juntunen told Knight News that because the event was scheduled last-minute, “we did not have enough time to give the panelists proper notification about being on camera, nor seek and receive proper approvals.”
OSI oversees CAB’s operations.
UCF has yet to respond to questions about its policy for staffers being filmed by the press, but its News & Information website notes that “prior clearance” is required before filming inside campus buildings.
Still, viewers were confused to see Knight News being told to stop recording the event, with some wondering if its reporters were being removed from the event. They were not.
One commenter took issue with Hamaoui’s explanation for why he could not be on camera.
“Stupid rules that will need to be clarified,” said commenter James Gordon.
It is unclear if UCF was aware of members of the press possibly filming the event. It is also unclear what it means for a news outlet to be “accredited” and whether that affects staff members from being on camera at public events.
Knight News has reached out to McGregor to further clarify her comments and has yet to receive a response.
UCF canceled classes earlier that afternoon due to Hurricane Irma and is currently monitoring the storm’s trajectory. They have also not responded to requests for comment.