“Freedom of the press is essential” to Adelbert C. “Del” Marsh, a Republican member of Alabama’s state Senate. “Freedom of the press is important” he proclaims. “Freedom of the press is not going anywhere in Alabama,” he swears, except that he wants government bureaucrats to have the power to give licenses to the journalists who can cover Alabama politics.
Except for that, Marsh is totally for press freedom.
Though he fails to name a single one, Marsh frets about “shady, fly-by-night websites offering purposely skewed and inaccurate interpretations of hard news.”
“My concern focused on the confusion that could result if a number of partisan bloggers requested official credentials to cover legislative happenings,” he worries.
“While a free and open press is vital and necessary, there are some who are attempting to hijack the profession by promoting raw political agendas from the confines of the press gallery,” Marsh agonizes. It is unclear if this statement is a swipe small news outlets or at The New York Times, The Washington Post and any number of other large, famous publications outside of his home state.
“This is not freedom of the press,” Marsh opines about opinion-driven journalism, “it is deceitful and wrong.”
And Marsh wants to do something about it.
“I recently asked the Secretary of the Senate to put together a definition of what qualifies as a legitimate journalist,” the Republican has threatened the citizenry of Alabama.
“Every organization and profession has standards that must be met. Because the Legislature does not have a definition of what constitutes a ‘journalist,’ anyone with a smartphone or a Facebook page could demand press credentials,” Marsh argues. “With so many ways to instantly share information, it is important that those who publish unfettered opinion — or are paid political operatives — should not be mistaken for a professional and accountable journalist.”
Marsh promises that journalists who are not licensed by the government will still be able to sit in the gallery of Alabama’s State House “and blog about what they see.”