Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Dog licenses, Room 14. Journalist licenses, Room 15.

Figure 1.
Example of unlicensed journalist,
Thomas Paine.

A Michigan state senator believes that journalists should be licensed if they are to report on, for instance, Michigan state senators. (Tip of the hat: Franklin Center.)
Senator Bruce Patterson is introducing legislation that will regulate reporters much like the state does with hairdressers, auto mechanics and plumbers. Patterson, who also practices constitutional law, says that the general public is being overwhelmed by an increasing number of media outlets--traditional, online and citizen generated--and an even greater amount misinformation. …

He told FoxNews.com that some reporters covering state politics don’t know what they’re talking about and they’re working for publications he’s never heard of, so he wants to install a process that’ll help him and the general public figure out which reporters to trust. …

According to the bill, reporters must provide the licensing board proof of:

--"Good moral character” and demonstrate they have industry “ethics standards acceptable to the board.”
--Possession of a degree in journalism or other degree substantially equivalent.
--Not less than 3 years experience as a reporter or any other relevant background information.
--Awards or recognition related to being a reporter.
--Three or more writing samples.
Your blogger believes this to be an excellent principle. It will not do to have just anyone writing about public issues; that is a job for the experts, such as reporters for the New York Times and the Washington Post, and others with no taint of moral turpitude such as plagiarism or bias.

Whenever unlicensed journalists and commentators are allowed to spread their views to the suggestible masses, only harm can result. Consider the hindrance to the orderly adoption of the progressive agenda by unapproved blogs and unknown publications.
The senator said that he feels that there’s no way to tell who’s a legitimate journalist and who’s just rewriting other reporters’ reporting and twisting facts.
Absolutely. Jayson Blair documented this thoroughly in his series on oppression of minorities in the newsroom, published by the New York Times in 2003. It was also the subject of an op-ed piece in the 1930s by Walter Duranty, also of the New York Times, titled "Soviet Union Leads the Way in Holding Journalists Responsible."

The licensing of hairdressers and journalists makes such good sense that I recommend it be expanded to include lawmakers. This is a little avant-garde at the moment, but to encourage the adoption of a license for state and national legislators, I have ginned up a rough draft of a licensing exam.


(Note: This questionnaire refers to the qualifications for a political license only. If you are seeking to be an accredited literary writer, you are in the wrong pew. Apply for poetic licenses with the Bureau of Approved Creative Writing.)

1. Are you now, or have you ever been, a lawyer?

2. If you answered "yes" to the above, do you know any non-lawyers who can testify to your ethical standards?

3. Are you familiar with a document known as the United States Constitution?

4. If you answered "yes" to the above, have you read it?

5. Have you ever been diagnosed with, or in intimate contact with a patient infected with, Pelosi Syndrome?

6.Do you have any skills, talents, interests, or knowledge outside the realm of law?

7. Submit three examples of a bill that you have yourself read in its entirety.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perfect! Thanks, Rick.