Pass The Press Please

What does it take to be considered a legitimate news organization?

Gothamist, the operator of nine city-centric blogs that cover local news, events and culture have finally received their NYPD press credentials which allows them access to on-scene reporting or press events that are otherwise closed to others. This was after almost 8 years, countless emails, phone calls, two appeal hearings, $5,000, and getting high-profile civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel involved.

In their very detailed guide they explain how the process works, and how it favors the establishment players:

If you work for a mainstream outlet, like a newspaper, radio, or television station, you can stop reading right now. Your boss has no doubt processed dozens of press pass candidates through DCPI, and will have no trouble getting you a pass. This seems to apply to any old media outlet, no matter how small, so if you write the produce column for your food co-op newsletter, you’re gold.

As part of the process, the applicant has to show proof that he or she covered a certain number of major events within the past two years, a barrier-to-entry hurdle for those in a fledging news organization denied access to many major events. Furthermore, the qualification for these major events are those that give deference and respect to the powers that be– events that had an NYPD detailed presence, and mayoral and/or city council press announcements.

In other words, the only news that counts is that which covers officially-sanctioned events which flatter the egos of politicians, which is why Gothamist’s “Occupy Wall Street” coverage was rejected(!) even though there was an overwhelming police presence at what could anyways be considered a significant news event absent the NYPD.

Ladies and gentlemen, so much for an “independent” news media.