To credential or not to credential II

As I sit and continue to wait for a reply to my request for credentials for the legislative session, I had one observant reader point out to me a recent article in the Washington post about bloggers being credentialed for Lewis Libby's upcoming trial:

But for the first time in a federal court, two of these seats will be reserved for bloggers. After two years of negotiations with judicial officials across the country, the Media Bloggers Association, a nonpartisan group with about 1,000 members working to extend the powers of the press to bloggers, has won credentials to rotate among his members. The trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the highest-ranking Bush administration official to face criminal charges, could "catalyze" the association's efforts to win respect and access for bloggers in federal and state courthouses, said Robert Cox, the association's president.

The new validation doesn't necessarily clarify the blurry line between bloggers and traditional journalists at a time when millions of people are discovering that they can project their opinions and expertise around the world with just a few keystrokes. The debates over the traditional checks-and-balances process that journalists follow are continuing, and some bloggers are resisting efforts to be put under the umbrella of the traditional news media."The Internet today is like the American West in the 1880s. It's wild, it's crazy and everybody's got a gun," said Thomas Kunkel, dean of the University of Maryland's journalism school. "There are no rules yet."

The common journalistic practices of verifying facts, seeking both sides of a story and subjecting an article to editing are honored mostly in the breach. Innuendo and rumor ricochet around the Internet as blogs link from one to another, at times making defamatory voices indistinguishable from the many others involved in this experiment of free expression.

Yet, after detailed talks with Cox, officials at the U.S. District Court decided that public awareness of court proceedings could be enhanced by his group's members, among them documentary filmmaker and journalist Rory O'Connor ( and freelance writer James Joyner

"Bloggers can bring a depth of reporting that some traditional media organizations aren't able to achieve because of space and time limitations," said Sheldon Snook, administrative assistant to Chief Judge Thomas F. Hogan. Snook added that some bloggers also bring expertise that is welcome in court.

Read it all here. I think this is something I've spoke on at length before. Do you think that the mainstream media (with one of the few exceptions being Bob Mercer who has commonly visited the topic) would have jumped all over campaign finance abuses if bloggers on the left and right hadn't gone into the topic at depth? Would they have even noticed?

That's the thing with websites. Unlike KELO that has no more than 30 seconds to a minute to go after a story, we can go after it for days on end. We also don't have column length limitations.

Bloggers becoming more ubiquitous in covering stories that would normally be the providence of the media? Absolutely. And it's good to see that it's being recognized in our nation's media centers.


Gene said…
In September, 2004 I was given official credentials by Sheldon Snook at this same courthouse. The result: I was able to blog the 9-month trial of USA v. Philip Morris, et. al. ( from the Press Room.

Things were more primitive then-- I was lucky just to be able to bring my computer into the courtroom for note-taking. But Mr. Snook and the members of the mainstream press couldn't have been more professional and gracious.

I'm very pleased that Mr Snook--an unheralded visionary, imho--has taken the next step, and opened the courthouse in an unprecedented fashion not just to all the media--but to a much wider public as well.

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