Bloggers Now Eligible For Press Passes In NYC
Wendy Davis, Mar 02, 2010 06:32 PM
In a nod to the growing influence of online journalists, New York City said Tuesday that bloggers and others who publish on the Web will now be eligible for press credentials.
The move comes as a result of a lawsuit filed in 2008 by three Web journalists who were denied press passes. In New York, journalists with press passes are typically allowed to cross police barricades at public events.
Under the new proposed policy, the New York Police Department would be able to issue press passes good for two years to any journalist who has personally attended and reported on at least six qualified events in the city in the preceding two years, regardless of whether the reports were published online, in print newspapers, magazines, books or other media. Events that will qualify include city-sponsored activity -- like a press conference or parade -- as well as emergencies where the city has set up do-not-cross lines. The proposal also allows inexperienced journalists to obtain single-use press passes.
Longtime civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel, who represented the journalists who sued, says the city will now decide who a journalist is by looking at the type of work they do, and not the organization they write for. "This addresses one of the major issues with regard to a online journalists," he says. "Bloggers should be treated equally to television, print and radio journalists."
David Wallis, one of the writers who sued, adds that the proposed new policy is less arbitrary than existing standards. "We believe that we have created a fairer system for online and offline journalists both to cover news in the greatest media city," says Wallis, CEO of the syndication company Featurewell.
Wallis says he possessed press credentials for many years, but allowed them to lapse while working on books about censorship. He attempted to obtain new credentials in 2007, but his application was rejected. "When I went to renew my application, suddenly they were saying that I was not a quote-unquote 'legitimate' journalist," he says.
The other two reporters who filed suit were Rafael Martínez Alequin, former publisher of The Brooklyn Free Press and currently publisher The New York City Free Press and the blog Your Free Press, and Ralph E. Smith, a reporter and publisher for GuardianChronicle.com.
Questions about how to determine who is a journalist have also come up in determining whether shield laws -- which allow journalists to protect their sources -- should cover bloggers.
Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, says that some other policymakers are moving toward an approach like that proposed by New York. "More and more, they are looking for folks who have a track record. They are fully aware that mode of dissemination should not make a difference. They are fully aware of the fact that, in this day and age, income makes no difference. So what they're looking for tends to be some evidence of experience."
"Certainly you can't give credentials to everybody with a computer," she adds.
MARCH 2, 2010
NEW RULES FOR ISSUING PRESS PASSES TO MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA IN
NEW YORK CITY
New York, March 2, 2010 – The City Law Department today announced the publication of proposed new rules for issuing press passes to members of the media in New York City. The rules proposed to be adopted by the Police Department modernize the City’s credentialing system to reflect changes to the media industry and, for the first time, expressly incorporate online-only media such as blogs. The new rules, which were published today in the City Record, also address the major contention in a lawsuit filed in November of 2008 that challenged the existing credentialing system.
“This is a press credentialing system for the online age that can serve as a model for governments around the country,” said Administrative Law Division Chief Gabriel Taussig. “The rules were drafted in a collaborative process with input from numerous interested participants, together with extensive research and a public listening session with members from all segments of the media.”
“We have streamlined and improved New York City’s Rules for Press Credentials,” said Norman Siegel, one of the attorneys in the lawsuit. “The new rules will enable journalists to gather and report news in a more successful manner than before. Online journalists will now be considered as 21st century journalists and be treated equally to print, television and radio journalists.”
Under the proposed new rules published today, to obtain a press credential, an applicant must show that he or she has covered, in person, six news events where the City has restricted access, within the two-year period preceding the application. In addition to employees of traditional news gathering organizations, the new rules cover self-employed newspersons and other individuals who gather and report the news. The new press card will be issued every two years.
A press card allows its bearer, with the approval of police, to cross certain barriers established by the City at news events. Many non-City entities also rely on the City press card to distinguish who is a member of the media.
The proposed rules continue the issuance of “reserve cards” that allow news organizations to credential a reporter for a specific assignment. The proposal also provides for the continuation of the issuance of a “single event press card” which will be available to journalists who have pre-registered and need the credentials to cover a single event. The reserve card and the single event card eliminate the “chicken or the egg” problem that exists for a prospective press card applicant who has not yet covered, in person, six news events.
The proposed rules allow for the creation of a press card, reserve card, and single event card, eliminating the “Press Identification Card.”
The proposed rules establish timeframes for granting or denying press card applications, and also for hearings and appeals concerning the denial of an application.
A public comment period on the proposed new rules begins today and extends through April 7, 2010. On that day, a hearing on the rules, open to the public, will be held at Police Headquarters in Lower Manhattan.
Administrative Law Division Chief Gabriel Taussig thanked those involved in the drafting of the new rules, including Senior Counsel Ave Maria Brennan (Administrative Law Division), Senior Counsel Lisa Grumet (Legal Counsel Division), Mayor’s Office First Deputy Press Secretary Jason Post, Police Department Assistant Deputy Commissioner Thomas Doepfner, Attorney Norman Siegel, Attorneys Scott Warren and Michael Cottler of the law firm Goodwin Procter, LLP, Attorney Steven Hyman of the law firm Mclaughlin & Stern, LLP and lawsuit plaintiffs Rafael Martinez-Alequin, David Wallis and Ralph E. Smith.
The New York City Law Department is one of the oldest, largest and most dynamic law offices in the world, ranking among the top three largest law offices in New York City and one of the largest public law offices in the country. Tracing its roots back to the 1600’s, the Department has an active caseload of 90,000 matters and transactions in 17 legal divisions. The Corporation Counsel heads the Law Department and acts as legal counsel for the Mayor, elected officials, the City and all its agencies. The Department’s 650 attorneys represent the City on a vast array of civil litigation, legislative and legal issues and in the criminal prosecution of juveniles. For more information, please visit nyc.gov/law.