Is It A Free Speech Violation To Deny Press Credentials To Bloggers?

from the seems-unlikely dept

Well, here's a case that may interest various bloggers who like to get press credentials to various events. Three "alternative" journalists in New York City are suing the NY Police Department for denying them press credentials, because they work for online or nontraditional publications. To be honest, it's difficult to see this lawsuit going very far. If a court finds that the NYPD is somehow required to give any alternative journalist press credentials, then it basically means that anyone can get press credentials (as, these days, anyone can become part of the press with a fews clicks) -- and makes the whole concept of press credentials meaningless. Of course, there are some who might say that's not a bad idea. But, on the whole, it seems like the NYPD (and anyone else) should be free to give out press credentials to whoever they want. It's not denying anyone's ability to report on things -- it's just determining what kind of access they have. The freedom of the press is about the freedom to report and publish -- not the freedom to go wherever they want and access whoever they want.
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Filed Under: free speech, nypd, press credentials

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  1. identicon
    Dosquatch, 14 Nov 2008 @ 3:01pm

    Re: Mike:

    Oops, wrong finger. I shall try again.

    Mike - The issue is freedom of the press. In exerting that freedom, or certain normally granted parts of it, a prerequisite must be recognition as press. Arbitrarily denying credentials curtails, among other things, first-hand access, in spite of your dismissing such.

    Were this first-hand access not important, why grant such access at all? (I say without flinching, since you've already tossed a slippery slope of your own into the debate) These attractors of media attention all seem to have mouthpieces and press secretaries. I'm sure the information they choose to pass along is fine without first-hand scrutiny.

    And I know that's ridiculous, but that's the position those without credentials and access find themselves in. Perhaps not to the extent of a diet of nothing but press releases, but you are held to reporting on the first-hand experiences of others, which isn't reporting at all. It's hearsay. It's copy/paste. But it is not press coverage. It is, in fact, exactly what normally gets criticized about press coverage when stories run amok.

    You go on to suggest that One needs not proper face-time to ask hard-hitting questions, and suggest One is not much of a reporter to "need" such. I counter - One can ask all the hard-hitting questions One wants to. Really insightful questions. Questions that really get to the meat of an issue. Questions that could, perhaps, win pulitzers... if One could get those questions answered. The subjects of such questions don't often wander by and give themselves up out of the blue. Most often, there has to be some close, personal time that involves a certain amount of uncomfortable squirming. This doesn't happen without access. Access doesn't happen if, say, the government chooses not to acknoledge you as press.

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