Journey faces pending lawsuit for photo

Journey magazine may face a lawsuit because of a photo it was not given permission to use that was featured in the recent Love and Relationship Issue.

A letter from Brezina George Law Offices located in Tampa was issued to Journey magazine March 17 requesting cooperation and Florida A&M University’s insurance policy in regards to libel and defamation.

Dorothy Bland, director of the Florida A&M University School of Journalism & Graphic Communication Division of Journalism, said a lawsuit has not been formally filed, and since it is a matter that is pending, the suit cannot be fully discussed.

“We want to do the right thing,” Bland said.

A picture of Bianca Savant, 19, a sophomore magazine production student from Tampa, was featured on page 18 of Journey’s February 2008 issue. The article was titled “After Burn” and was about a young woman having a sexually transmitted disease. The young woman featured in the article wanted to remain anonymous, so an unrelated picture was used.

Savant posed for the camera and took multiple shots but was not told the picture would be used for the article.

“I was upset,” Savant said. “Nobody asked for permission.”

Savant said the picture used for the article was for practice and not to be used.

“I was under the impression that my face wasn’t going to show,” she said.

Because the article spoke of a girl having a STD, Savant was worried that students would come to believe the girl mentioned in the article was her.

“If it was a story on something else, I would have been fine, but it was dealing with STDs,” Savant said.

Savant said she called Journey and complained.

“They told me the photographer just told them they could use the pictures,” she said. “Miscommunication I guess.”

Since having her face in the article, Savant said she has received unwanted comments and jokes on the issue.

“Several people have approached me as if I was the girl with an STD, making jokes,” she said.

Savant may have been upset, but she said her parents were the ones to file the suit.

“My parents got upset, and it was their idea,” she said. “I was told it was not going to be public.”

Savant said her parents filed for the suit over spring break. Savant also stressed that she did not want the students to get in trouble.

“I understand that people make mistakes,” she said. “I didn’t want it to go crazy.”

Journey Editor Yewande Addie and Wesley Martin refused to comment on the pending lawsuit. James Hawkins, SJGC dean, was unavailable for comment.