Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Michigan Considers Law to License Journalists

Hmmmm, I'm not so sure this is going to truly insure a free press now is it. Perhaps giving business licenses doesn't insure free enterprise, but at least we want to be sure doctors or lawyers are licensed for example. But a journalist?
A Michigan lawmaker wants to license reporters to ensure they’re credible and vet them for “good moral character.”

Senator Bruce Patterson is introducing legislation that will regulate reporters much like the state does with hairdressers, auto mechanics and plumbers. Patterson, who also practices constitutional law, says that the general public is being overwhelmed by an increasing number of media outlets--traditional, online and citizen generated--and an even greater amount misinformation.

“Legitimate media sources are critically important to our government,” he said.

He told FoxNews.com that some reporters covering state politics don’t know what they’re talking about and they’re working for publications he’s never heard of, so he wants to install a process that’ll help him and the general public figure out which reporters to trust.

“We have to be able to get good information,” he said. “We have to be able to rely on the source and to understand the credentials of the source.”

Critics say the proposed law will stem press freedoms and is bound to be politicized with disgruntles politicians going after reporters who don’t paint them in a positive light. They say that adding members of the so-called fourth estate to the list of government regulated occupations would likely be found unconstitutional.
Who's to say that if a gov't was dominated by Democrats they wouldn't attempt to only license those who are more of their persuasion and vice-versa for Republicans? It's has been alleged depending upon the ideology of any given individual that the media is biased. It is possible that this can only create another bias on the part of the media to ensure that they remain licensed by the gov't.

EDIT: Instapundit found this story over the weekend noting that
How about requiring that all sitting legislators pass a test on the constitution? And maybe an IQ test, too . . . .

Okay, if you read the fine print, the bill doesn’t really do anything other than label. But it wouldn’t be irrational to fear the camel’s nose. And how do you deal with the camel’s nose? You cut it off.
Requiring politicos pass a test on either the state or US constitution? I can definitely go for that there are plenty who are woefully ignorant of at least the US constitution. As a matter of fact I check out the Illinois constitution a lot more now that I follow state issues more.

BTW, Bruce Patterson is a Republican (that wasn't noted in the FOX News article) and apparently he's running for Michigan Attorney General. The article notes that Patterson doesn't actually expect this to become law but to at the very least provoke a discussion.

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