cr> re: Media Cartel & Vigdor


Richard Moore

Date: Tue, 27 Feb 1996
Sender: Vigdor Schreibman - FINS <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Re: cr> Media Cartel & Vigdor in New York Times (fwd)

FINS SPECIAL REPORT                                       February 27, 1996

for Internet Press Galleries at US Capitol

     Michael Wines' article, "An Internet Service is denied admission to the
Capitol chambers for working journalists" (The New York Times, Feb 26), tells
an old story: insiders fight to keep the outsiders out.  In this case the
insiders are the Press Galleries of the US Senate and House of
Representatives who denied press credentials, Jan 29, to the Federal
Information News Syndicate (FINS), without any justifiable cause and
treating as irrelevant the First Amendment free press rights [Fins-PaN-27].

     Donald Ritchie, the assistant US Senate historian and the author of
"Press Gallery" (Harvard Press, 1991) was mentioned by Wines in his article,
when he observed, "Washington reporters have an unfortunate history of using
technology as an excuse to exclude competitors."  Ritchie also subsequently
indicated in a phone interview Tues morning that the actions taken by the
Press Galleries to deny credentials to FINS, was the same kind of behavior
that others have had to contend with, whenever a new press media has come on
the horizon: weekly press; periodical press; radio and TV.

     "Maybe what will happen at this time," Ritchie indicated, is "the
establishment of an Internet Press Gallery by Congress."  There is
significant Constitutional logic to the notion of establishing a set of
Internet Press Galleries at the US Capitol, however, efforts are being made
by the established press groups to take over this domain and keep out the new
Internet journalists such as FINS.  While FINS was denied credentials,
favorable consideration is being given by the Press Galleries to a proposal
by the National Journal (one of whose executives, Richard Cohen, is on the
Executive Committee of Correspondents), as a new Internet press member with
a focus on politics.

     If the United States Government decides to dedicate public property to
advance freedom of the press for certain classes of press groups (e.g., daily
newspapers, weekly newspapers, periodicals, or radio and TV-broadcasting),
any attempt to exclude or limit another distinct group of special importance
would be subject to strict limitations by the First Amendment, free press
provisions.   The denial of credentials to FINS, an "indispensable source"
for tens of thousands or more of citizens, librarians, computer information
and communications professionals, is clearly such a case.

     The idea of establishing Internet Press Galleries at the US Senate and
House of Representatives, is right for the time.  Therefore, FINS has
launched an investigation into the advisability of this possibility.  Any
citizens of cyberspace who wish to participate in or support such an
undertaking should send an email message to •••@••.•••,
subject, "Internet Press Galleries," stating in the body: COUNT ME IN!

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