Criteria too simplistic in new landscapeSean Holman, a journalism professor at Mount Royal University, said questions at the heart of the Alberta government's review have been hot-button issues in the industry for years.
Accreditation available to those who provide coverageManon Cornellier, president of the Canadian Parliamentary Press Gallery in Ottawa, says media accreditation is available to those who can prove that they're providing public coverage and are not simply trying to gain access for lobbying or other purposes. "They establish that they need the services, and they were doing genuine journalistic work which can be comment, opinion or plain reporting," she said. "It's not just one type of work. It's any journalistic items, on a regular basis, on federal or parliamentary affairs." The gallery's roughly 330 members, she said, consist of everyone from long-standing newspapers to freelance reporters to relatively new online news outlets such as Vice and BuzzFeed. Cornellier said the common criterion is a clear need for press gallery access. While traditional news outlets often have active memberships that speed accreditation for their reporters, newcomers must produce several months worth of consistent parliamentary coverage before they're accorded the same rights.
Association decries Alberta's approachFreelancers usually gain access to the gallery on temporary day passes which will only be issued at the behest of an assignment editor. Alternatively, they need two backing letters from separate news outlets to gain longer-term access. Cornellier said one active freelancer offered a letter from Rebel as part of the accreditation process. The Canadian Association of Journalists decried the more restrictive approach recently used in Alberta, issuing a statement saying that "they do not control who gets to hold government to account." Holman suggested one way to potentially resolve the ongoing debate is to reframe the question. "Should a member of the public have a right to be at that event? Should a member of the public have a right to question their elected officials?" he said. "That is the source of the authority which we have, the idea that we act as surrogates for the public."
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