I Was Right

I predicted just a week ago that recent media credibility issues would lead to (misguided) calls for tighter credentialing and licensing of journalists:

I resisted the call by a number of web sites at the beginning of the
year to make predictions for 2005.  However, now I will make one:  We
will soon see calls to bring a tighter licensing or credentialing
system for journalists, similar to what we see for lawyers, doctors,
teachers, and, god help us, for beauticians
.  The proposals will be
nominally justified by improving ethics or similar laudable things,
but, like most credentialing systems, will be aimed not at those on the
inside but those on the outside.  At one time or another, teachers,
massage therapists, and hairdressers have all used licensing or
credentialing as a way to fight competition from upstart competitors,
often ones with new business models who don't have the same
trade-specific educational degrees the insiders have.

Hah, it didn't take a year - it only took a week.  Several commentators point out that those jumping all over the Jeff Gannon affair are effectively arguing for tighter credentialing.  From Glenn Reynolds:

I also think that the people who are trying to inflate this into a big
issue are making a dreadful mistake. I eagerly await the reaction when
the White House responds to this criticism by requiring everyone who
attends a press briefing to make a full financial and sexual
disclosure, and starts rating news outlets as "real" or "fake"
according to bias. (If I were Rove I'd make some rumblings about this
to the press corps, and I'd explicitly cite the lefty bloggers by name,
just to stir up trouble . . . .)

David Corn warns:

There is a need for professional accreditation; space is limited. Yet
there is nothing inherently wrong with allowing journalists with
identifiable biases to pose questions to the White House press
secretary and even the president. And if such a reporter asks a dumb
question--as did Gannon/Guckert (which triggered this scandal)--the
best response is scorn and further debate. Bloggers should think hard
when they complain about standards for passes for White House press
briefings. Last year, political bloggers--many of whom have their own
biases and sometimes function as activists--sought credentials to the
Democratic and Republican conventions. That was a good thing. Why
shouldn't Josh Marshall, Glenn Reynolds, John Aravosis, or Markos
Moulitsas (DailyKos) be allowed to question Scott McClellan or George
W. Bush? Do we want only the MSMers to have this privilege?

  • http://www.thinkingrockpress.com/trp1086.htm James C. Hess

    Hello. I have been reading your blog for some time, and finally decided to respond to a post herein.

    A license for journalists? Given how many doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc. who are licensed, who violate the oath of their profession, does anyone honestly believe this could work, when it comes to journalists, who thrill at lying, deceiving, and betraying so many to get The Story that will win them some award, so they can validate their life?

    No. What is needed is a free-market system: Those who do their jobs accordingly and appropriate will endure. Those who don't won't.