December 9, 2014
Contact: Michael Moroney
Alexandria, Virginia — Alabama State Senator Adelbert Marsh has come out in support of defining which journalists and news organizations should be credentialed to cover the state legislature. In response to his editorial posted in the Montgomery Adviser, Jason Stverak president of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, has released the following statement:
“As the president of a national news organization – and an advocate of a free press – I strongly oppose Alabama State Senator Adelbert Marsh’s scheme to determine which news outlets and reporters should be credentialed to cover the legislature from the press rooms.
It’s ironic that Sen. Marsh would seek to address the very real problem of misinformation by suppressing new-media press organizations.
There’s also irony in the fact that the senator’s initiative comes at a time when news outlets around the country are allocating fewer resources to critical statehouse coverage. Journalists from nontraditional news outlets – like those supported by the Franklin Center – who wish to keep the public informed should be granted the unimpeded access already granted their counterparts in legacy media organizations.
Defining who is and isn’t a “journalist” leads to the creation of arbitrary barriers and limits press freedom. It also raises serious constitutional, political and ethical questions: Who gets to create that definition? What narrow political forces help shape their decision-making?
I hope Sen. Marsh will reconsider his plan and work toward a more powerful, more truly American goal: lower the barriers to all journalists so that we may hold government accountable. We need more people covering our state legislatures – not reporters licensed by the people they cover.”
The Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity is a leader in non-profit journalism. It was founded in 2009 to address falling standards in the media as well as a steep falloff in reporting on state government and provides professional training and assistance with a mission of exposing waste, fraud, and abuse in government.