Saturday, June 23, 2007

press credentials for bloggers

We've covered this issue before, but, as with anything to do with blogs, it's evolving rapidly. Today, we'll attempt to summarize the available precedents for providing press credentials for bloggers, based on the experience of a wide range of organizations...and remind you to make sure you don't get caught without creating a thoughtful policy for admitting bloggers to your events, press rooms, and online offerings, a process we can help you through. Here's a sampler of learnings to get you started:
* Major newsmaking organizations that have credentialed bloggers include the United Nations, the White House, and, for the recent trial of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the federal court in Washington.

*PBS will credential a limited number of bloggers for next week's forum with Democratic presidential candidates in Washington, DC, on June 28. (Both Democrat and Republican parties credentialed bloggers at the last national political conventions.)

*The National Press Club has agreed to extend associate membership to bloggers, a step short of full "reporter" status.

*Some state legislatures have begun, slowly, to credential bloggers, notably California. The U.S. congressional press galleries, which apply a "newsgathering" (versus opinion) litmus test for admitting reporters, have thus far ejected a website reporter/blogger for Consumeraffairs.com when his existing credentials expired; read that site's coverage here. Currently, the periodicals press gallery handles credentialing for online journalists, but this recent article in The Hill advocates a specific congressional press gallery for online journalists.

*Among corporations, Chrysler, which has its own blogs, has issued a press pass to this blogger.

*And major sports leagues vary widely, but have led their governmental and corporate colleagues in admitting bloggers to the press box. A good summary can be heard in this National Public Radio discussion from yesterday, about the ejection of a blogger from the Louisville Courier-Journal from the College World Series. Note that he was ejected not due to his blogger status, but because he did live play-by-play coverage during the game, against the conditions of his credentials. Listen all the way through to hear a great summary of which leagues admit bloggers; some are even considering a separate "bloggers' box" to sit alongside the press box at games.
Will you apply a "newsgathering" litmus test for bloggers who want to cover you? Treat them like constituent groups rather than press? Provide early and embargoed access, and offer free materials? These and other questions need to be considered in your communications plan for blogger press credentials. Email us at info@dontgetcaught.biz for help and ideas.

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