Who defines the media

With the rise of the internet and the blogosphere how can we determine who is and isn’t a journalist? Should every person clickity clacking away on a keyboard be given press credentials?

In 2008 Oregon sought to create parameters for who is considered to be a member of the media after the Lake Oswego City Council refused to admit a local blogger to their executive proceedings. Blogger, Mark Bunster’s story kicked up a controversy on what was considered to be journalism.

According to The Oregonian article, Lake Oswego was looking to define media outlets as “institutionalized,” “well-established” and producing at least 25 percent news content. Well look at that! Who determines what is well-established? Does anybody else have that dark tingling of censorship looming over their shoulder?

This definition of course led to a flurry of concern in the journalistic community seeing as the definition was primarily excluding members of independent media and preventing the presence of new media outlets from attending these sessions. If the outlet is brand new how can it gain any level of “established” when the government is trying to block them from covering the news?

In 2010 iMediaEthic’s updated the story by explaining the formal guidelines put in place by Lake Oswego. The article said official media membership was defined as ”

  • A blogger can be included “As long as he is a part of an institution and committed to compliance with the law.”
  • Media is “any organization that has been previously recognized as eligible to attend executive sessions.”
  • Members of two Oregon media organizations — the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association and the Oregon Association of Broadcasters — and the Associated Press are allowed.
  • “Non-traditional media” must pass a “two-part test” including regular publication and institutionalization (defined as having “multiple personnel” and a methodology for corrections)”

According to these guidelines solo bloggers would not be able to attend these proceedings because they fail to meet the “multiple personnel” criteria. It does prompt the question, what is Lake Oswego afraid the media will uncover if they did allow solo bloggers to attend their meetings? Are they afraid that the next John Marshall (the founder of Talking Points Memo, originally a solo blogger operation) is going to unearth an important story about the city? What is going on in Lake Oswego?


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