After a ban on public taping and severe restrictions on media access prompted a press revolt at the State Capitol, the Minnesota House attempted to right things on Thursday by passing a resolution urging that press be allowed to tape its proceedings. Missing from the resolution however, was the word “pulbic”.
At The UpTake, we’ll argue that press and public are the same thing. The first amendment was written for the general public, not for media companies. We hope that the Minnesota Majority and Minority leaders who sponsored this resolution have the same interpretation.
Here’s the statement from Jason Barnett, The UpTake’s Executive Director:
“Freedom of the press” is a citizen’s freedom more than simply the freedom for professional organizations and their employees. Citizens attempting to record at the State Capitol should be protected as “press” as is any media organization, and should not be prevented from recording proceedings as long as they conform with the regular rules of decorum.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was written to protect the activities of pamphleteers, not professional journalists, nor media organizations as they were not yet developed in a significant way at that time. The modern equivalent of pamphleteers are citizens who maintain and distribute their own journals – i.e. bloggers (citizen journalists etc.) Modern equivalents of the printing press include the video camera and the internet.
If the Minnesota Capitol building is “our House” as they say at the beginning of every tour, then the public should be able to access and record (using whatever tools they need) from the proper areas citizens are allowed – any public area. Anything less denies citizens their constitutional right and creates a government that is less instead of more transparent.