In response to Wednesday’s expulsion of me and Josh from a Dino Rossi press conference, I wondered out loud if our friends (and enemies) in the traditional media would stand up for the rights of their new media colleagues:
I don’t know if there are some in the old press who applaud these efforts to exclude new media journalists like me, but they certainly don’t seem to be standing up for us.
Well, it turns out that at least a few print journalists have stood up, and I want to thank them for their support.
Over at The Stranger, Josh’s former co-worker Erica C. Barnett slogged on Josh’s plight, remarking that she’s “still pissed” about the one time she was asked to leave a press conference. She offers this sage advice:
People who work with the media need to learn that you get better press by letting the media (even the partisan media!) in than by excluding them.
Meanwhile, Bellingham Herald political reporter Sam Taylor offers his own defense of both me and my medium:
I would strongly wager that, while my page views are pretty dang big here in our area, Goldy’s make mine look like a tiny, female Chinese gymnast (of legal age to compete, of course) in a Sumo wrestling contest. Blogging is the new journalism, my friends. Mark my words.
But I was most heartened to read Seattle Times editorial columnist Bruce Ramsey’s first hand account of the incident, not only vouching for my description of the events, but defending my media credentials, partisan or not:
Being an employee of a big paper, I have hardly ever had that happen to me. The one time I remember was in the 90s as a business reporter being denied entry to a stockholder meeting of the Fisher Companies, which was then under SEC rules a public company. I was furious–shaking–and a good deal less polite to the Fisher vice-president who kicked me out than Goldy was yesterday–and I don’t regret anything I said to that Fisher man, or about him, thereafter. My experience wasn’t exactly the same as Goldy’s, but close enough.
Obviously, a lawyer holding a press conference in his private offices may let in who he likes and exclude who he likes. It may well be, as Goldy suspects, that they excluded him because he’s anti-Rossi, and because his style of expression is less than genteel. Maybe even the name of his blog has something to do with it. But for the record: Goldy is part of the media in Seattle. People who follow politics know who he is. They read him. Whether Feit is paid, or how much he is paid, is beside the point. We are not media because of how much money we make, or that we make any at all. We are media because of what we do.
Goldy, or his man Feit, should have been let in.
As Ramsey clearly explained in the comment thread of a previous post, the Times op/ed page is opinion, and as such “is not bound to be evenhanded”… and I’d argue that yesterday’s Rossi apologia certainly wasn’t. That was the sort of partisan editorial the Rossi campaign wanted and expected from the Times, and that is the sort of partisan editorial Ramsey delivered. There is this convenient fiction that journalistic partisanship is a vice unique to the blogs, and that it inherently diminishes our credibility, but in this particular race it is fair to suggest that Ramsey and I are equally partisan… only in favor of different candidates.
In the end, Josh and I were excluded from the press conference not because we are partisans, and not because we are bloggers, but because Rossi’s handlers feared the difficult questions we might ask in the presence of a roomful of reporters. The “partisan blogger” label was just a bullshit excuse.
Four years ago when I first started blogging, I didn’t really consider myself a journalist either, but over time both my blog and my thinking has evolved. As Ramsey unequivocably argues, we are a legitimate part of the media, and it is in the public interest that we be treated that way. For as more and more traditional media moves online while blogs like mine expand the quantity and quality of our coverage, the line between the two will continue to blur, making any effort to ghettoize mere bloggers nothing more than a convenient excuse to deny access to journalists who produce unflattering coverage.
And when subjects get to pick and choose the reporters covering them rather than the other way around, our democracy loses.