Mar 172010
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With New York City about to let bloggers qualify for press passes, a look at what breaking down the walls between old and new media means for science reporting.

A long awaited breakthrough may be about to occur on the streets of New York City. On Tuesday, The New York Law Department released a proposed revision to its press credentialing rules that decreed “online journalists will now be considered as 21st century journalists and be treated equally to print, television and radio journalists.”

This decision comes as a coda for a two-year old law suit initiated by three journalists who work exclusively online. The NYPD’s credentialing rules of the time required proof of employment by a “traditional” media outlet, i.e. a newspaper, magazine, radio station, or TV network. In lieu of that, freelancers could use six articles they had written that had required press clearance, though the obvious chicken-and-egg dilemma that situation presented was never resolved. Until now, that is (provide these proposed rules take effect).

The three journalists at the heart of the law suit were issued press passes earlier this year; now, this new credentialing system aims to smooth over the distinction between bloggers and journalists. The taxonomic debate going on here is much more complicated than a blogger/journalist binary, however, as many around these parts have attested.

Working under the same umbrella as the mighty ScienceBlogs network, it’s easy to forget that some still see blogging and journalism to be inherently at odds. That’s why I was surprised to learn that ScienceBlogs’ own new media revolutionary Bora Zivkovic was denied access to the press room at the AAAS meeting last week, despite his association with no less than four media organizations that could vouch for him.  (Update: It should be made clear that Bora was, after some confusion stemming from the fact he was also a presenter at the conference, granted a press pass based on his affiliation with PLoS. For more on how this situation was resolved and more details on the blogger credential guidelines at AAAS, see this post from the director of AAAS’ Office of Public Programs, Ginger Pinholster)

On Twitter, Dave Munger and Bora hashed out what purpose credentials actually serve, with the latter wondering if they served any at all. Perhaps this is more of a playful jab than a serious argument, but it bears some delving into.

Read more . . .

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