Society of Professional Journalists
Improving and protecting journalism since 1909

Advertisement
— ADVERTISEMENT —
Advertise with SPJ
4

News and More
Click to Expand Instantly

SPJ News
Events and Deadlines
SPJ Blogs
Quill Online
SPJ on Tumblr
Journalist's Toolbox

Stay in Touch
Twitter Tumblr Facebook Google Plus
RSS Pinterest Pinterest Storify


More SPJ News
Press Notes
Publications
SPJ Blogs
Quill
SPJ Leads
The EIJ News
Press Notes
SPJ News
Open Doors
Geneva Conventions
Annual FOI Reports

Home > SPJ News > SPJ to Senators: Don't Boot Media from Press Galleries

SPJ News
Latest SPJ News | RSS


SPJ to Senators: Don't Boot Media from Press Galleries

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
7/3/2001


Advertisement
— ADVERTISEMENT —

Contacts: Al Cross, SPJ president-elect, 502/648-8433 or across@spj.org; Ray Marcano, SPJ president, 937/225-2323 or rmarcano@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS - The Society of Professional Journalists urges the U.S. Senate to abandon its plan to evict the periodical and photographic press galleries from their spaces in the U.S. Capitol.

SPJ President-Elect Al Cross sent a letter Monday to Senate Rules Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., and Senate Majority Leader Thomas Daschle, D-S.D., expressing the Society's deep concern over the plan eliminate these galleries on the Capitol's third floor.

"The tradition of galleries for the public and the press, which act as the eyes and ears of the public, is a long and respected one in our republic," wrote Cross, a political writer and columnist for The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal.

"While there have been changes in newsgathering and congressional procedure in the decades since the photographic and periodical galleries were established, these galleries are still needed."

The Senate's plan - announced last Friday after regular business hours - would lump all journalists into the daily and broadcast galleries, which already are overcrowded. Further suggestions have been made that all media galleries should be removed from the Capitol.

"Evicting the periodical and photographic galleries could be the first step in such a plan," Cross wrote, "and either case flies in the face of the principles of open government and freedom of information - principles that are at the heart of the First Amendment, our democracy and the work of the journalists that our organization represents."

The proposal to shrink space for galleries - or eliminate them completely - has set off a firestorm of criticism from reporters and photographers covering Washington. Capitol Hill officials have charged that Daschle started the chaos in an effort to expand his office space.

Galleries are made available in the Capitol so that journalists can have timely access to lawmakers and use computer workspace, telephones, message services and various reference materials when covering Senate proceedings.

"We hope this is a simply a momentary lapse in good judgment," said Ray Marcano, SPJ president and an assistant managing editor at the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News. "Evicting the press from its quarters is akin to shutting off access to the public. I'm sure that's not what our lawmakers intend."

July 2, 2001

The Hon. Christopher J. Dodd, Chairman
Committee on Rules, United States Senate
305 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC, 20500

Dear Sen. Dodd:

I write as president-elect of the Society of Professional Journalists, America's oldest and largest journalism organization, to ask that you reconsider and abandon the plan to evict the periodical and photographic press galleries from their spaces on the Capitol's third floor. I also write as a journalist who has used the galleries and hopes to do so again.

The tradition of galleries for the public and the press, which act as the eyes and ears of the public, is a long and respected one in our republic. While there have been changes in newsgathering and congressional procedure in the decades since the photographic and periodical galleries were established, these galleries are still needed. Magazine, newsletter and other non-daily writers need gallery access to add color, depth and meaning to their articles. Photographers, who have special technical and equipment concerns, need to be close to the news and the newsmakers.

The galleries provide timely access to lawmakers and ensure that a wide range of news media, including regional papers like The Courier-Journal, for which I work, are able to cover Congress up close. We might not be able to do that if the periodical and photographic galleries were consolidated with the daily and broadcast galleries, which are always overcrowded when major news occurs and the need for them is greatest.

Journalists are especially concerned about the attempt to move the periodical and photographic galleries because it was not disclosed until after regular business hours at the end of a workweek, and because there have been suggestions that all the press galleries be moved out of the Capitol. Evicting the periodical and photographic galleries could be the first step in such a plan, and either case flies in the face of the principles of open government and freedom of information - principles that are at the heart of the First Amendment, our democracy and the work of the journalists that our organization represents. For the sake of those principles, we ask that you let keep the galleries where they are and let the journalists in them continue to do their jobs and serve our democracy.

Sincerely yours,

Al Cross
President-elect, Society of Professional Journalists
Political writer and columnist, The Courier-Journal,
Louisville

Copyright © 1996-2014 Society of Professional Journalists. All Rights Reserved. Legal

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center
3909 N. Meridian St.
Indianapolis, IN 46208
317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789

Contact SPJ Headquarters
Employment Opportunities
Advertise with SPJ