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What is a bona fide journalist?

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Just what makes someone bona fide? We can’t help but wonder after Wisconsin’s Attorney General insisted only bona fide journalists will be allowed to cover events involving his boss, Governor Tony Evers. At issue is a lawsuit by the conservative-leaning MacIver News Service which is suing Governor Evers for being excluded from his media events. As we have argued previously, the politics of a news organization should not matter, and Evers should not exclude some while allowing others to cover his events. In response to that lawsuit, Attorney General Josh Kaul is arguing that the governor doesn’t have to answer questions from anyone other than bona fide journalists. But Kaul does not define what makes a group a bona fide news organization, nor has he provided a specific list of what media organizations are allowed access to the governor. This is a slippery slope, and not much of a legal argument. The Drudge Report was not considered a bona fide media organization, but it is one of the most popular sites on the internet. Is a student who publishes his own podcast a bona fide journalist? What about a professional reporter who didn’t get a degree in journalism? Is that person bona fide? The Evers administration continues to miss the mark on this issue. It seems if a person is employed by a news organization, that makes them bona fide enough to ask questions, and Evers should allow access to all who meet that criteria, regardless of the politics of the person signing their paychecks.

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