To credential, or not to credential...

Last week, I asked a question that might cause a little trouble. That wasn't my intent, but in all fairness, I had to ask.

I sent a note to Jim Fry at the Legislative Research Council and posed the question "If any of us who have political websites or blogs want to have press credentials for session, what do we need to do?" I sent it at the end of the day on Friday, so I wasn't expecting to hear about it for a while.

But, I happened to run into Jim at the inaugural, and yes, he had gotten the note. His response? The legislature is going to have to address that question...

Now, he didn't mean that negatively at all, and I apologized, because my intent wasn't to cause him work and consternation. But, it is a changing world, and whether people want it or not, "new media" is at a point where many consider it just that - media. But, there are still those who look at us like media's "uncivilized trailer-court living cousin who was just on Jerry Springer"

So, it begs the question of "when it comes to press opportunities, how we should be treated?"

The line is blurry when it comes to blogs. Some are media organization sponsored. Some are not. Denise Ross over at the Hog House Blog is a stringer for the Argus Leader, and has started attending the Governor's Press Conferences. I don't know her numbers, but given that her website is newer than mine, I'd assume my readership numbers (750-1300 daily) are bigger than hers.

But given that she writes for the Argus (and has an article in today) should she be credentialed, whereas I wouldn't, because she would have an easier time pointing to a traditional media source?

Seriously, why should they have all the fun? I know I have bigger numbers than a few of South Dakota's weekly newspapers. But somehow, I don't think that a reporter for the South Shore Gazette would have any trouble.

I understand part of the concern is that the bullpen - the little area for the media in the corner of each chamber up by the podium - is way too crowded. But I don't care about that. I'm happy to work from the gallery.

More than anything, if I take a lunch hour, or a half a day off to go up to session, I'm more concerned with the floor privileges that the media is afforded beyond that of the general public. If I want to pop in and chat with a senator or representative for something I'm working on, I'd like the ability to wave that little badge and be let in.

So, right now I'm waiting for the decision, and I know the LRC will be fair. They're a great group of people, and in all my interactions with Jim Fry, he's always been top notch. Much is going to depend on what the chamber's leadership wants. Even if they say "no," I know it's not staff as much as what leadership would prefer.

A few years ago, the White House started credentialing bloggers for the president's press conferences. And now, that decision is going to be made here in our state.

So, just sit tight and see if we bloggers can break the newspaper ceiling in South Dakota.


nonnie said…
A little off comment, but I used your link to read Denise' article in the Argus. After reading this and listening to Heidepreim last night on TV, I get the feeling that the whole legislature just wants to give lip service, if even that, to the whole Sutton thing and sweep it under the rug. On the other hand, the "venerable" Duffy is threatening doom and destruction to our legislative process forever if they do much with the whole issue. Should be intersting to see how much backbone our legislators have regarding this.

Good luck with the credentialing thing. Your articles on this blog are much more insightful than most of the MSM. And we get to comment on them too, which is so much FUN!
rich engels said…
I think bloggers should get press credentials. Nothing wrong with a little competition.
Anonymous said…
9:21...sweep it under the rug?? Oh My God....HAVE you been following this thing AT ALL or do you just feel like being lippy. They have gone above and beyond anything EVER seen in history dealing with this Sutton thing...and they are FAR from sweeping anything under the rug...if anything, they are vultures just waiting for dead meat! I mean COME ON get a clue and maybe follow things a little more closely...I don't think ANYTHING is being swept under Any rug!!!! Pleeaassee. GET REAL!!
Anonymous said…
I would grant credentials to any blogger that doesn't allow anonymous commenters. The kind of slander and libel that takes place under non deplum is absolutely unacceptable in professional politics.
Credentialed bloggers should be held to the same standard that the conventional media lives by and that is nobody can say anything unless they sign their name to it and it is moderated for civility.
Anonymous said…
This could be a dumb question, but what do press credentials get you that you won't be able to get sitting in a gallery or committee hearing audience?
Douglas said…
"under non deplum"

Some cook could probably whip that up in a minute or two.

I had only heard the term and never read it, but assumed that accepting something at face value was "taking it for granite." Seemed to make sense until I stuck it into a freshmen English course paper and found out correct version is "take it for granted".

I don't much like comments from nom de plumes or pseudonyms adopted by comment writers, but they are much less a problem than whole blogs written anonymously or those sponsored by unknown or unspecified special interests.
mjb said…
so says 10:22. Anonymously.
Anonymous said…
10:27 - the media gets a few perks such as extra floor access, and sitting in a crowded box on the floor.
Anonymous said…
Who gets to decide what blogs are acceptable and what ones are not? Who gets in? SD Politics? Coathangers? Clean Cut Kid? Epp?
Anonymous said…
More people read your blog than most papers... the other people should read your blog.
Todd Epp said…
Back in the day, getting media credentials was a snap for the established media. I went to the LRC, gave them the list of SDPTV crew members, and a day or so later, we had shiny green badges with our name and media outlet on them.

The Fourth and Fifth Estates say they stand in the shoes of the public in terms of public access. So, what if a citizen journalist wants to stand in their own shoes?

So, what is the criteria? Must have paid subscribers? Must have advertising? Must have a certain circulation or readership or viewership? Must have no unsigned letters to the editor or blog comments? What about a call-in show where they let people comment without saying their full name? Must not have a certain political "point of view"?

I wish the LRC luck in setting up some sort of fair yet workable credentialing policies.

In the meantime, save me a seat up in the gallery next to Sibby.

BTW, Pat, while your numbers are great, mine aren't bad. I have more weekly unique readership than most weekly newspapers in SD as well. Send your excess traffic my way. I have the bandwith to accomodate them. (grin)

Todd Epp
Senior Seating Chart Maker
S.D. Watch
Anonymous said…
What would legally keep bloggers from gaining credentials?

I am talking about law and not an office policy.
nonnie said…
10:16. Read the article an listen to Heidepreim talk about this issue. They wish it would dry up and go away. And if it would have been dealt with last year it would have been over by now.
Joan said…
PP - I think you answered your own question. If crowding is a problem, grant legitimate bloggers a different type of pass that allows them access to individual legislators in the same manner that MSM have. Other than that, one can hear well enough in the gallery to write about what is happening.

As far as exceptions, I believe that only bloggers who allow feedback should be given passes. Otherwise, it's just one person's ego trip.

Regarding problems with lible: You do a decent job of screening things to prevent lible, but it wouldn't be a bad thing if you set up your site so that you could pre-screen stories before they are posted in the same manner that the RCJ does. Then you would have the same type of control that other media have over their content.

Good luck.
Anonymous said…
10:22 and 11:24. Funny.

By the way, 10:22. Have you read Time or Newsweek lately? Almost every source quoted has requested their name be witheld for one reason or another lately.

Sign of the times, I guess.
Anonymous said…
So when does SouthDakotaMac get his/her press credentials? You have to admit there is a difference between news reporting and services that spin hearsay and opinions based on the work of news reports. The fact that a legitimate reporter also runs a competing blog is different.
Anonymous said…
Hey, I want my press badge to list my name as "Anonymous." Think that'll get the sargent at arms attention?
Todd Epp said…
3:01 p.m.

SouthDakotaMac will have his press credentials or his diabolical MonkeyBots will destroy the state! So, be reasonable and give him his green badge.

And, some would say what you describe is what a newspaper columnist does.

Todd Epp
Senior Free the MonkeyBots Editor
S.D. Watch
Anonymous said…
10:22 am why anonymous, what is your name?
Anonymous said…
PP deserves credentials just as much as an reporter from the Watertown Public Opinon fish wrapper. Times have changed when it comes to news.
Anonymous said…
I think PP deserves a credential as much as Denise Ross. I have never seen better proof that mediocrity can rise quickly in journalism. Talk about someone who never seems to get it. The journalists in this state (by and large) are people who don't know what is going on, are bitter at their lack of success, and spend all their energy trying to rip down anyone who is successful. The Argus is full of people like that. That's why the blogs work - the bloggers (at least some of them) are successful smart people who make their living doing something else.
Anonymous said…
Hi 8:43 (Lee) It's cold here in Pierre, but at least no snow..
Anonymous said…
Does the South Shore Gazette have a reporter in Pierre? Go Comets/Coyotes !
Anonymous said…
As a reporter for what's been described as the Watertown Public Opinion fish wrapper, it should be pointed out that it's not the wrapper but the fish inside that stinks after it's been around too long and begins to rot. As for the broader discussion about credentials, the only time that floor access becomes important is during the quiet periods immediately before and after the House/Senate floor sessions when the chamber doors remain closed to lobbyists and other members of the general public. Reporters as a matter of courtesy don't conduct interviews on the floor while the House and Senate are in session. And once the chamber doors are open, no credentials are necessary. Credentials don't get a reporter anything in terms of special access to committees, caucuses, et cetera. The question of legislative credentials for bloggers is at issue in many states. Given that news organizations increasingly have blogs, there no longer is any bright line. The likely long-range result is no floor access during the actual floor session or the quiet periods before and after.

Interesting discussion, Pat. Best regards, Bob Mercer

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