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News photographer kicked out of Montana State Fair; officials silent

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We have just received a report that an independent news photographer claims he was escorted out of the Montana State Fair earlier this week.

In an exclusive interview with Big Sky State Buzz, the photographer said officials kicked him out because they said he did not have proper credentials.  He claimed, however, that Kim Lander, the Marketing and Sales Director for Montana ExpoPark, gave him the OK to be there the day before.

He also said he wished to remain nameless because he said he didn’t wish to, “be further contacted by the sheriff’s department.”

“Well (the fair) didn’t have a media pass for me, so I used my media pass I have for my company,” he said. “Kim told me she said it should be fine. I was just reporting on the fair like all other news stations do. They bring their cameras and talk about what events are going on, but I get kicked out. I feel like (Lander) is trying to hide something.”

The area photographer said before he was booted, he was told that he cannot be anywhere inside Montana ExpoPark nor can he publish any of his pictures or videos.

“They said I have to leave immediately and they asked me for my personal information and then basically called me a liar,” he said.

As of Wednesday, several attempts to speak with Kim Lander have gone unanswered.

As such, we’re still unsure exactly what went down and why this journalist was forced to leave a public area after he had an exempt pass to get in the gate and a verbal agreement to shoot photos once there. The photographer said he was very surprised that he was being escorted out by police.

“(Lander) talked to me face to face the day before,” he said. “So then, I was near the 3 Rivers Communications stage where the hypnotist show is and there were a whole lot of other people there, too.”

Keep in mind that this is just one side of the story, but until we get in touch with someone at the Fair, this first-hand account is all we have to go by.

At first glance it seems fishy to kick out someone who’s an independent media person, even if he or she isn’t part of the newspaper and/or TV stations here in town.

We’re of the opinion that it’s bad PR because media members have platforms to air their displeasure with their unpleasant experience, unless there is a good reason to have that person removed. Perhaps this media member could have found a way to secure an official press pass to avoid this situation, but perhaps the fair needed to do a better job of making sure there were enough passes for everyone who needed one, as well.

We will update you if any more on this story develops.

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