The RTA School of Media says it’s not behind a media ban at a recent event co-hosted by its faculty featuring Kirstine Stewart, the vice-president of North American media partnerships for Twitter Inc.
Instead, it was a decision made by Stewart’s handlers to keep the event a private, invite-only affair that ultimately affected the event’s media policy, the school said.
“RTA is always happy to have media join our public events,” said Marie Crosta, program manager for RTA. “When it is a closed event however, we take media into consideration and then invite them should all parties agree.”
Crosta says that the event’s fellow co-host, Women in Communications and Technology (WCT), were the ones that initiated the conversation with the faculty, inviting RTA to be event partners as “an added opportunity for a limited number of staff and students.”
WCT was responsible for providing food, inviting their members to the event and communicating with Twitter, while RTA was responsible for the venue, set-up, production and inviting staff and students. According to Crosta, RTA did not have any direct contact with Stewart, who used to sit on the faculty’s advisory board, or her people prior to the event.
“As you can imagine, we were also upset to hear that we were not able to invite any press to this event as per a request made by Kirstine’s team,” said Crosta. “With the Twitter event, we mentioned inviting media and the request was to keep it as a private, invite only event.”
Last Wednesday, a Ryersonian reporter was turned away from the event, held at the Rogers Communications Centre, by door staff, citing an agreement with Stewart’s handlers. When the reporter returned asking to only take a photo of Stewart, they were turned away again from the event.
The Ryersonian reached out to one of Stewart’s representatives through email for comment but did not receive a response.
However, Crosta told The Ryersonian that time was a component of the decision.
“I did a further check-in and was told that time constraints were a factor, as she only had one hour,” she said.
According to Michael Forbes, manager of media relations for Ryerson, media access to on campus events is determined by event organizers and often defers to the wishes of the guest speaker.
“If a faculty organizes an event it’s up to them to determine the level of media access they want to permit, a decision that is usually made in conjunction with any guest speakers,” he said. “Some speakers do not feel comfortable speaking when media are in attendance and we have to respect their concerns.”