Franklin Center - Licensing Journalists is a Dangerous Trend

By Jason Stverak, President of The Franklin Center


On May 11th, Michigan State Senator Bruce Patterson introduced legislation to license reporters to ensure they’re credible and vet them for “good moral character.”  This legislation not only attempts to control the media but it is stepping on the constitutional protections afforded to the press. Although this legislation is voluntary, it represents a dangerous trend that could affect journalism employment, accreditation, and access to politicians. Franklin Center President Jason Stverak addressed this controversial legislation in an op-ed for the Washington Examiner.

Excerpt from Jason's op-ed

People must realize that journalism is being forced to adapt to new economic realities and that means allowing new journalism organizations to fill in where the traditional media is lacking. And one of those areas is in state capitol reporting.

An American Journalism Review study found that only 355 full-time newspaper reporters still are based in state capitols; 44 statehouses have fewer full-time reporters than they did six years ago. The gaping hole in local and state news has left many asking “Who covers the statehouse?”

This hits at the heart of the problem facing the journalism industry.  It comes as no surprise that journalism and traditional news businesses are struggling.  And while they lay off staff and fail to meet the needs of the public, Americans are demanding more government transparency and the exposure of waste, fraud and abuse.

However, with the decreasing media presence at state capitols, there are fewer media watchdogs working to keep our elected officials and bureaucrats accountable.  The American public is calling for ethics and responsibility from those who spend their hard-earned tax dollars.  But without the watchful eye of state capitol journalists, these politicians have too many opportunities to deceive, misuse and exploit their own interests over those of their constituents.

Read more at the Washington Examiner