Capitol Weekly: Out in cyberspace, looking in. For 60 years, the Capitol Correspondents Association has been charged with deciding which reporters should be sanctioned to cover the California Legislature. But a new set of bylaws aimed at restricting the access of partisan bloggers has set off a mini-firestorm within the Capitol, as California aims to become the first state in the nation to set out specific rules over how and whether bloggers should be credentialed.
The new rules — the final decision was reached Wednesday following a 34-3 vote by the Association’s members — require that reporters must get at least half of their earned income from media jobs, including self-employment, and that those employers be identified on the credentialing application. There are conflict-of-interest provisions, and a deliberate falsehood on the application is grounds for revoking the credential. The Association believes the new rules dealing with the electronic media will ease professional bloggers’ Capitol access.
This is a bogus way to “ease” access for bloggers; in fact, it virtually ensures that they’ll have none. If that’s not the design of the new rules, the people who made them created a dysfunctional process for making their decision.
The rules are designed “to separate hobbyists from professionals,” one member of the club is quoted as saying. That’s part of the problem, because it’s exclusionary in a way the pros can’t seem to grasp. And the income requirement — are they going to demand tax returns? — is just bizarre.
If the club members had been serious about finding a way to open up, it would have gone about its mission in a different way. What they’ve come up with tells me they’re more protective than ever of their privileges.