A bill introduced Tuesday in the South Carolina House of Representatives would create a “responsible journalism registry,” criteria on what qualifies someone as a journalist, and set requirements for media outlets before hiring one.
The bill, titled “South Carolina Responsible Journalism Registry Law,” was introduced by Republican Rep. Mike Pitts. He says the legislation, which includes criminal penalties and fines, was meant as a rebuttal to the way the press handles gun legislation.
“It strikes me as ironic that the first question is constitutionality from a press that has no problem demonizing firearms,” said Pitts to The Post Courier. He added, “With this statement I’m talking primarily about printed press and TV. The TV stations, the six o’clock news and the printed press has no qualms demonizing gun owners and gun ownership.”
The law would certainly raise constitutionality questions as the First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting…abridging of the press.”
The text of the bill is below.
A BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING CHAPTER 85 TO TITLE 40 TO ENACT THE “SOUTH CAROLINA RESPONSIBLE JOURNALISM REGISTRY LAW” SO AS TO ESTABLISH REQUIREMENTS FOR PERSONS BEFORE WORKING AS A JOURNALIST FOR A MEDIA OUTLET AND FOR MEDIA OUTLETS BEFORE HIRING A JOURNALIST; TO REQUIRE THE ESTABLISHMENT AND OPERATION OF A RESPONSIBLE JOURNALISM REGISTRY BY THE SOUTH CAROLINA SECRETARY OF STATE’S OFFICE; TO AUTHORIZE REGISTRY FEES; TO ESTABLISH FINES AND CRIMINAL PENALTIES FOR VIOLATION OF THE CHAPTER; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.