by Cathy Resmer
This is ridiculous. VPR reported yesterday that the Governor's office has barred bloggers from its press conferences. Last week, Adam Quinn of Vermonters First asked a question at the briefing, which prompted Jason Gibbs, the Governor's press secretary, to write a new policy detailing who should be allowed to attend.
According to VPR, He decided the opportunity is open only to:
"Bona fide working journalists who have a responsibility to reportthe news for a broadcast or print medium whose business it is todisseminate the news on a somewhat regular basis."
Wait, aren't bloggers working in print? They're using words. You can print them out on a piece of paper. And what does this mean for journalists who are working pro bono? Does this mean that volunteer reporters from Out in the Mountains would be barred? Does this mean that unpaid student reporters are barred? It certainly means that citizen journalists from sites like iBrattleboro are barred.
I have a lot of thoughts about this, but Philip Baruth basically sums them up. He has an excellent if too-cute account of why this is so outrageous at Vermont Daily Briefing. And Quinn addresses it, too.
I understand Gibbs being concerned that some liberal candidate could pay a blogger to ask inflammatory questions. Maybe there's a way bloggers can organize to keep that kind of dirty politics from happening. But short of that example, there is really no good reason to bar bloggers from those briefings.
I would think that having more bloggers at those press briefings is exactly the kind of thing we would all want to encourage in a country that's perpetually bemoaning the decline of its participatory democracy.
Trust me, you haven't heard the last of this.
UPDATE: Morgan Brown points out in the comments that bloggers aren't actually being barred from the press conferences, but *are* being barred from asking questions. That may be true. But I didn't read the VPR story that way, since it said James Dwinnell would promise not to "participate" either. So... not sure.
UPDATE II, 3/8/06:
Adam Quinn chimes in with a comment:
Cathy thanks for the interesting comments and support... Couple of points to add:
1) No one has said I can not ATTEND; only that I cannot ask questions.
2) Dwinell, from my understanding, will be ALLOWED to continueasking questions because he has worked out some sort of deal with theAddison Eagle to write something for them.
3) I have very strong feelings about NOT turning the Governor'sweekly press conference into a circus. Bloggers like anyone else at thepress conference has to respect the process, ask questions in a naturalflow, and not be dis-respectful of others time (or try to dominate theconversation).
4) Finally, like the Governor energy policy, I am unaware of anactual written down policy of who can and who cannot ask questions atthe Governor's press conference. I have been asking for one for over amonth.
5) I'd love for another blogger to come and ask questions of the Governor.
Again, great to see your thoughts!