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
    Dan J., 17 Nov 2008 @ 9:55am

    Re:

    Sure, there must be some standards. But Mike seems to be missing the fact that the Police Department is a government entity and thus can not legitimately discriminate. Would it be acceptable if the PD started denying press passes to anyone who posted a story which showed them in a bad light?

    And while lack of a press pass doesn't prevent you from reporting on something, but it does prevent you from reporting first hand impressions if you can't get access. News reporting is all about scoops - the first one to report on a subject, or to provide a particular angle. If you're unable to get a press pass to certain events, you're at a serious disadvantage.

    Obviously, as you and Mike point out, it's not going to work to hand a press pass to everyone who simply asks for one. I think the solution is to have a clear, public and non-discriminatory policy which defines who's eligible to receive a press pass. If you feel that you're unfairly discriminated against, then you can sue to have the policy changed.

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