Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Who is "the press"? Who gets to decide?

Breanna Anderson is Mayor Richard Berry's Deputy Director of Communications.

At the time the adjoining photo was being taken, Ms. Anderson was explaining to photo-journalist Mark Bralley and me, that she would be happy to send us copies of notice of news conferences, in response to a public records request and 15 days after the news conference takes place.

I am currently in email communication with her over being put on her "media advisory list".

The media advisory list is of those "news outlets" that will be contacted when the City or County wants "the news" to know something.  Inclusion on the list means prior notification about press conferences.

In exchange for being put on the media advisory list, the "news outlets" agree to abide by the Mayor's rules of decorum.  Those who don't abide by "the rules", some legitimate questions are off limits, find themselves removed from the media advisory list.

Mayor Berry, by and through his Deputy Director of Communications, would like to keep me and others who might ask inconvenient question, away from his news conferences.

It is disparate treatment under the law.

I am currently engaged with Ms. Anderson in an attempt to clarify the Mayor's position.  The following is an email exchange regarding my interest in being put on the media advisory list.

Ms. Anderson,

I am asking to be put on the media advisory list, not as a "news outlet"; whatever that means.  My request is for equal treatment under the law, as a member of the press.

Recall with me that the First Amendment reads in significant part;
Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom ... of the press ...
There is no mention of "news outlets" or "the media".

My understanding of that language is that it means; the Mayors Office shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press.

The question is not what news outlet I work for, or what their email address is, it is; am I or am I not a member of the "press".
As a digital age political pamphleteer, I consider myself to be precisely "the press" that the founding fathers sought to protect.  Am I entitled to Constitutional protection of my human right to be the press? 

A more fundamental question is; who gets to decide whether I am entitled to a Constitutionally protected human right?  Does a Deputy Director of Communications have that authority?

I am wondering if we can cut to the chase; simply lay our cards on the table.
Would you please forward to me, anything that the Mayor will point to, if ever he has to explain how he decides who is, and who is not, entitled to the right to be the free press.

My "news" outlet of course is Diogenes' six;
There is no associated email.
This letter is an open letter.

I am grateful for your time and attention.

ched macquigg

On 4/1/2014 11:05 AM, Anderson, Breanna wrote:
Hi Chad,
I’ve received a request to add you to the media advisory list.
Can you advise which news outlet you work for? And do you have an email associated with them?
Thanks so much,
Breanna Anderson | Deputy Director of Communications | Mayor's Office | O.505.768.3037 | C.505.980.3567 | ...

photos  Mark Bralley

1 comment:

JD Robertson said...

The Gadfly is easy to swat, but the cost to society of silencing individuals who were irritating could be very high!