This is a follow-up to the extensive coverage you've read about the North Carolina Press Association's decision to deny press credentials to Kirk Ross, who is an independent journalist and blogger. Kirk posts some of his stories here at BlueNC under the name "kmr."
My specific request is that you write to your state senator or representative to request that Kirk's credentials be granted. You should also write to the North Carolina Press Association. Use this address: brian at ncpress.com
Here's the letter I'm sending to Joe Hackney.
I know you have lots on your plate these days, but I hope you'll take a minute to consider my request.
There have probably been more egregious instances of arrogance by the news media in North Carolina, but I am not aware of one that is more regrettable than the recent decision by the North Carolina Press Association to deny press credentials to freelance journalist Kirk Ross.
The story is both simple and bizarre, and it underscores questions about the suitability of the NCPA to serve as the organization that decides which journalists get access to the North Carolina State Legislature.
Here are the facts.
1. Kirk Ross, a freelance journalist with years of experience covering state politics, applied to get credentials for access during the 2007 legislative session.
2. Mark Binker, acting on behalf of the NCPA, denied Mr. Ross’s request. In explaining his decision, Mr. Binker said he would have granted the credentials if Mr. Ross were not cross-posting his stories on a website called BlueNC.
Mr. Binker believes that Mr. Ross’s association with BlueNC, which advocates for progressive public policy, disqualifies him from equal access to elected officials in the General Assembly.
Just to be clear, Kirk Ross is neither a contractor nor an employee of BlueNC. The website is a community-run forum that allows anyone to post anything they want. Nor does Mr. Ross provide his stories exclusively to the BlueNC website. Indeed, most of his stories are published elsewhere before they ever show up on BlueNC. To penalize him for this loosest of associations with a single progressive blog is unconscionable.
BlueNC is among the fastest growing blogs in North Carolina. More than 1300 people visit the site daily, adding up to tens of thousands each month. It is rather ironic that Ross and BlueNC established the cross-posting arrangement for the specific purpose of upgrading the quality and volume of original reporting on the website.
To summarize, Mr. Binker is not questioning Mr. Ross's integrity or professionalism. He is protesting the fact that Mr. Ross cross-posts his stories on a progressive blog.
Mr. Binker’s decision should not be allowed to stand. And if it does stand, the NC Press Association should be swiftly removed as the de facto arbiter of access by journalists to the General Assembly.
Thank you for your consideration.
Please borrow whatever you like from this letter . . . or write your own from scratch . . . and send it to everyone you can think of. Start with your senators and representatives. Then hit your local papers. And the NCPA.