Bruce Patterson, a Republican senator in the state of Michigan, said that the critical role of journalists in promoting democracy demands that they be held to certain standards, including the possession of “good moral character,” and has introduced a bill seeking to have them licensed.
According to Fox News, reporters seeking accreditation under Patterson’s bill would need the following attributes:
* “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.
The bill has no co-sponsors, and indeed, according to Fox, Patterson has no expectation that it will go anywhere. He said he wants to provoke discussion on the quality of reporting.
Jason Stverak, President of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, said “By introducing a bill to license journalists, Michigan State Senator Bruce Patterson is attempting to control the press and is stepping on constitutional protections. There is a reason why this is a single sponsored bill and has not received much support in the legislature…And while traditional media lays off staff and fails to meet the needs of the public, Americans are demanding more government transparency and the exposure of waste, fraud and abuse. The American public is calling for ethics and responsibility from those who spend their hard-earned tax dollars. But without journalists, politicians and elected officials have too many opportunities to deceive, misuse and exploit their own interests over those of their constituents. Our country needs more watchful eyes on our elected officials, not legislation that outlaws the truth from emerging.”
RBR-TVBR observation: This has to be the easiest observation ever – Patterson has essentially taped a kick me sign onto the rear end of all politicians. So here goes nothing: Politicians should enact legislation assuring that politicians possess “good moral character” before they give even remote consideration to applying such a standard to anybody else.