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Digital Media Law Project Announces a New Survey of Media Credentialing Practices

September 12, 2013

The Digital Media Law Project at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, together with the Investigative News Network, the National Press Photographers Association, Free Press, Journalist’s Resource, and the Nieman Journalism Lab, is pleased to announce the launch of a new study on media credentialing. We invite newsgatherers of all types to participate.

Even as the very concept of journalism evolves to accommodate dramatic new ways of gathering and interacting with information of critical public importance, the idea of media credentials remains deeply embedded in the practice of journalism in the United States. Dozens of laws at both the state and federal levels condition the right to engage in newsgathering activity on the receipt of credentials; police departments use press identification to separate journalists from protestors subject to arrest; and political parties limit access to vital aspects of the democratic process to those approved by campaigns. And yet, systemic understanding of credentialing practices and standards is very poor, with public attention normally being limited to discrete issues as they arise.

“In many ways, newsgathering rights in the United States are a structure built on shifting sands,” said Jeff Hermes, director of the Digital Media Law Project. “It is crucial for the future of journalism that we learn more about how these rights are allocated by those who control access.”

The new study is designed to develop a nationwide overview of credentialing practices over the last five years, in order to identify emerging norms and systemic issues in how credentials are used by government entities and private organizations to control newsgathering activity. The core of the study is an online survey that asks journalists and others who gather and report information of public importance to provide information about their experiences in applying for and obtaining media credentials from federal, state, and private entities in the United States. The survey will generate data that can be made available to the public, be used as a platform for further study, and form a basis for developing measures to improve conditions for journalism as a whole.

We welcome participation in the survey from all who consider themselves to be involved in gathering news for publication, including professional and citizen journalists, activists who publish news content as part of their activism, and independent bloggers who write about current events. If that sounds like you, you can take the survey at http://www.dmlp.org/survey. We hope you will join with us in this effort!

CONTACT:
Jeffrey Hermes, Esq.
Director, Digital Media Law Project @ Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society
E-mail: staff@dmlp.org
Tel: (617) 495-7547

(Image courtesy of Flickr user Bill Couch pursuant to a Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.)

Last updated

October 7, 2013