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Statehouse access update

March 9, 2010

Two stories related to the statehouse credentialing and access issues Capitolbeat members have been discussing on our e-mail list have been in the news this week.

A story from The Daily Record in Maryland details efforts of a blogger to get credentials in Annapolis:

Gov. Martin O’Malley’s press office said no, denying him a State House press pass to cover the General Assembly session.

Liner says yes, and has filed a lawsuit to force the O’Malley administration to issue him a press pass. If he is successful, Liner would become only the second Internet-exclusive information source to have media credentials in Annapolis.

Liner has no desire to become a trailblazer in the blogosphere, but he acknowledges the lawsuit reflects how the Internet has forever changed the way people consume news.

“This is the modern delivery system,” he said. “Why should this be treated differently?”

It’s a question government officials, media lawyers and even reporters themselves struggle to answer.

“It’s the tough hypothetical you give to classes on a final to tell the good students from the bad ones,” said Mark Graber, a constitutional law and politics professor at the University of Maryland School of Law.

Click here to read the whole thing.

Capitolbeat member Lucy Morgan wrote about the proliferation of online news outlets in Florida for today’s St. Petersburg Times:

And the Capitol Press Corps has never seriously considered a formal rule that would block some reporters and allow others, a practice that has sparked internal disputes and lawsuits in other states.

As a result, two years after traditional newspapers and television stations started laying off reporters and substantially cutting back on coverage of state news, a virtual herd of newspeople are going to work for Web-only publications. Some of the Web sites are clear about their ownership and purpose. Others are not.

A couple of the better-financed news Web operations have moved into the Florida Press Center, taking offices once occupied by newspapers that cut staff or eliminated capital bureaus. One of the new groups — Sunshine State News — has set up shop in a former Miami Herald suite with new furniture and a staff of about a half dozen reporters and editors who say they plan to emphasize business and politics on a free Web site.

The folks at Sunshine will not disclose the names of investors who are financing the operation. Sunshine managing editor John Wark says it is privately owned by a group of investors who want to create a “firewall” between the owners and the reporters.

Click here for the full story.

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