Disqus

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Help for the Non-Journalist

I need a favor; if you don't agree with the district's idea of who is a journalist, could you please comment about it at Publicola? If there are enough comments, it goes into their "most popular" stories area. Movers and shakers in this town read Publicola and it would be very helpful to make sure the story gets a lot of attention.

Thanks.

12 comments:

ARB said...

http://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/journalists/access

content-based discrimination in press pass issuance by a public agency is illegal

none1111 said...

Nice find ARB.

Is this something you're going to pursue Melissa?

Charlie Mas said...

I went to the EFF web site but I didn't see a reference to the law or the Court decision that supports this FAQ:

Can bloggers get press passes?

Yes. Some government agencies have established procedures for obtaining press credentials (a means of identifying yourself as a journalist). Government agencies are prohibited from deciding arbitrarily whether you are entitled to a press credential, and are required to publish the standards used. See, e.g. the State Department Press Credential Standards. For example, a federal court determined that Consumer Reports was unconstitutionally denied access to the Congressional press gallery based on "arbitrary and unnecessary regulations with a view to excluding from news sources representatives of publications whose ownership or ideas they consider objectionable."

ARB said...

https://www.rcfp.org/places/presspassesmayhelpyougetin.html

try that link for case references.

NotAJournalist said...

Melissa - You're not a journalist. You are a citizen and parent who blogs. If you're allowed to attend a press conference, so is anyone else.

It's interesting to me because you want to both have the rights of a journalist AND the public. You pick whatever role suits you best in the moment and get huffy when someone draws a line in the sand. You can't have it both ways.

Bird said...

Hey NotAJournalist,

So what is a journalist by your definition?

In my book, someone who collects and reports news is a journalist. In this city, in education, there is no greater journalist than Melissa. I wouldn't be aware of one tenth of the things going on in the district if it were'nt for Melissa.

Is it that you expect a journalist to be paid? I'd call that a paid journalist.

Is it that you expect a journalist to be "objective" like the Times? I'd call that a useless parrot of press releases.

Tell me more. I'm genuinely curious.

CCM said...

NotAJournalist -

I tend to think that the term "journalist" is a thing of the past.

Is your concern that Melissa is too biased to be a journalist?

She certainly reports the news of the school district in much more detail than anyone can find elsewhere (and with arguably less bias than the Seattle Times).

I'm not so naive as to think any "trained" journalists provides completely unbiased reporting anymore.

Most journalists blog -- in fact many are required to at this point as part of their job descriptions. Blogging makes their opinions well known - just as Melissa's opinions are well known.

Its certainly more of a gray area than it has ever been.

I'm just curious how you have drawn your "line".

Charlie Mas said...

Is Lynne Varner a journalist?

Is Bruce Ramsey or Joni Balter or any other member of the Times editorial board?

Is Danny Westneat a journalist? Is Nicole Brodeur or Jerry Large?

What are the rights that the public has that a journalist doesn't have? Is Mel trying to have it both ways or is she only trying to be recognized as a journalist?

Melissa Westbrook said...

NotaJournalist, I don't know what you mean about sometimes I want to be the public and sometimes a journalist. When I attended meetings where my kids were involved, I was a parent and the public (and sometimes a journalist). So if you could clarify what you mean it would be helpful (and also when I was huffy).

The line is getting blurred all the time. The PI online uses UW interns in journalism. Are they journalists? Are the interns at the Stranger? Do you have to get paid? Do you have to have a journalism degree?

Reporting is not what it used to be. I told everyone here what question I would have asked if permitted and no one said it was an attack or snarky or anything.

As I said, I've heard from a few staff who say thanks for taking notes otherwise we wouldn't really know what was said at some meetings other than the Powerpoint. That I report on what happens then that makes me a secretary and not a journalist?

Yes, I provide commentary (usually backed up by facts and/or analysis based on years in this district.

Steve said...

The Story was just picked up by Riya Bhattacharjee on The Stranger blog ("slog"): http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2010/09/16/school-district-refuses-to-let-blogger-ask-questions-at-press-conference

Riya has started writing news articles about Seattle Public Schools, and they're pretty good.

dan dempsey said...

The above point is well made about "knowing what goes on at meetings".

The Board was cited in the Audit for not taking minutes at several work sessions and retreats.

Check out many of the Board's minutes. Little more than the agenda repeated is passing for minutes. There is little if any attempt to communicate much of anything in some of these supposed minutes.

Maureen said...

SPS does not appear to have a Policy regarding press passes. The closest thing I can find is E21.00. It governs how media representatives have to behave when they visit schools.