Richmond City Council, at least temporarily, seems to have closed off an area in City Council chambers made available to working members representing news media covering meetings in response to this recent incident.
Style Weekly's publishers and editors sent a letter to City Council last week, appealing to the public body to keep this area open. The Richmond Times-Dispatch says it also sent a letter, but had received no response as of Monday.
Style heard back from officials in support of the letter. Among them were City Council members Michelle Mosby and Ellen Robertson, who said they would support a policy similar to the one employed by the General Assembly. Robertson asked city council staff to proceed "with the process of formalizing the action."
April 24, 2014
Dear Members of Richmond City Council,
We write to ask that you keep the press gallery of the City Council chambers open to representatives of news media. The space has been a much appreciated professional courtesy, and closing access to it would greatly diminish working conditions for reporters covering the significant public business conducted by City Council.
Our first concern is practical: The only power outlets available to reporters in the room line the desk in the press gallery, and no laptop battery can outlast a City Council meeting. Second, having a table upon which to review reports, take notes, write articles and publish updates online is a tremendous asset to working reporters.
Given that up until a recent, isolated incident, there’s been no issue with improper use of the press gallery, we urge you to take no action regarding access to it. If you conclude that you must take any steps toward formalizing access, you could simply adopt the credentialing requirements in use by the General Assembly. You will find them below.
Thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely yours,Lori Collier Waran, Publisher
Jason Roop, Editor in Chief
Tina Griego, News Editor
General Assembly Press Credentialing Policy:Press passes are restricted to journalists whose primary responsibility is coverage of Virginia state government and the Virginia General Assembly. Applicants must be full‐time, paid correspondents employed by a news organization that is: (a) a general circulation newspaper that has been published for at least 52 weeks consecutively, (b) a public or commercial radio or television station with regularly scheduled news programming, or (c) a news organization whose principal business is the daily dissemination of original news of interest to a broad segment of the public, and which has broadcast or published (online or in print) continuously for 52 weeks. The news organization must (i) work independently of any government, industry, or institution and (ii) not engage, directly or indirectly, in any lobbying, political activity, or other activity intended to inﬂuence elections or any matter before the General Assembly or before any independent agency, or any department or other instrumentality of the Executive Branch.