Citizens and journalists are taking to new mediums to report on Congress. These new mediums, however, are not recognized by the U.S. Senate Press Gallery. Today, ConsumerAffairs.com reports that it's Congressional reporter, Joe Enoch, an award-winning investigative journalist, was ejected from the Press Gallery after he was denied renewal of expired credentials because he wrote for an online venture. According to the Senate Press Gallery, ConsumerAffairs.com is not a "legitimate journalistic enterprise." This is a shining example of what Rob Bluey pointed to in his Hill op-ed and in his Open House Project recommendations to create a credentialing to bloggers and citizen journalists. The right to report is not limited to those employed by elite media institutions. ConsumerAffairs.com founder and editor in chief James R. Hood puts it best when he says, "The Constitution of the United States guarantees freedom of the press to everyone; it does not establish a legitimacy litmus test."
Not only does the Senate Press Gallery reject journalists because of the medium in which they write but they also operate in a completely non-transparent manner. We don't know exactly why Enoch was denied a renewal of his credentials. All that we know is that this institution has declared that ConsumerAffairs.com, and along with them every other journalist/blogger writing for a non-elite web site, not a "legitimate journalistic enterprise." We don't even know what standards the Press Gallery sets for defining a journalist's employer as a "legitimate journalistic enterprise." What constitutes legitimacy? Who decides what a journalistic enterprise is or is not? The sheer opacity of the Press Gallery is infuriating.
If you think that journalists and bloggers should be able to exercise their First Amendment rights and report on the U.S. Congress just like the elite press than head over to the Open House Project and check out our recommendations to open up the House to citizens.
(hat tip: commonsense)