One of the oldest ideals of this country is freedom of the press, an idea taken even further here in Florida thanks to the Sunshine Law. However, newly elected Governor Rick Scott seems to have some trouble fully grasping the idea of a free press and apparently wants to hand pick which reporters get to cover him in certain situations. For a guy who had such Tea Party support, he sure needs to freshen up on the Constitution.
Typically, all credentialed press is required to cover government events. Occasionally, however, some events present logistics where only a limited number of reporters can attend. The typical protocol calls for the use of "pool reporters." The press corps typically keep a list of pool reporters from various news organizations and one is chosen by rotation to cover the event and must share their reporting with the other organizations. Typically, a reporter from radio, print and television is chosen.
Well, according to Fresh Squeezed Politics the Scott administration isn't comfortable with this tried-and-true setup. Not only does Scott want to increase the number of events which call for pool reporters, he wants his administration to be able to hand-pick those reporters:
According to [an email to Florida editors today from Frank Denton, editor of the Jacksonville Times-Union], the issue began when Scott's office decided it needed to open a recent dinner with Scott and other legislators to press coverage. The event was planned as purely social, but would have violated the state open meetings law if there was any discussion of state business.
Administration officials asked for the press corps to submit a list of five candidates for the pool, from which Scott's staff would choose two.
That proposal "was rejected out of hand," Denton said, and the press corps offered a rotation list as an alternative, which Scott's office rejected.
The problem is that Scott's staff could pick reporters it deemed friendly and shut out reporters and news organizations it deemed unfriendly. That presents a pretty clear threat to the freedom of the press.
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According to Fresh Squeezed, some in the press corps are offering an alternative in which Scott's staff would get to chose from a rotation list of ten reporters with the stipulation that no reporter is chose twice before all ten have been chosen.
Though, we're just wondering why a convention that has worked well for previous Florida Governors all the sudden has Scott so upset. Of course, considering he's a political novice, it's completely understandable that he just doesn't understand how well this whole "government" thing works.
[FreshSqueezedPolitics: Scott, press corps battle over choosing reporters for pools]