Archive for Friday, August 18, 2017

Editorial: Keep space free for the press

August 18, 2017


Kansas legislators should be as accommodating as possible to media organizations that provide coverage of their work in Topeka, including continuing to provide free space in the Capitol for those news organizations to use.

Members of the Legislative Coordinating Council, which includes the top Republican and Democratic leaders in both chambers, voted this week to direct staff to draft a policy on how requests for media space in the Capitol should be handled. At least one member of the council, House Speaker Pro Tem Scott Schwab, R- Olathe, said the policy of providing free space to for-profit news organizations should be reconsidered.

“I’m fine with the Kansas Broadcasters Association, a nonprofit; the Kansas Associated Press, a nonprofit; college students; public broadcasting,” Schwab said. “But when you bring a for-profit media into the building and you give them free space — and let’s be honest, sometimes they lobby when it comes to freedom of information, Kansas open meetings, or even the publication of notices — these are the same organizations that suddenly become lobbying firms.”

The basement of the Capitol includes eight offices currently used by the media. Full disclosure — the Lawrence Journal-World is one of the for-profit news organizations that use a Capitol office. The others include the Kansas City Star, Wichita Eagle, Topeka Capital-Journal and Hawver’s Capitol Report. Nonprofits with Statehouse offices include The Associated Press and Kansas Public Radio.

The review of the policy was prompted when a group of television stations known as the KSN network requested space in the building to launch a full-time Statehouse bureau. That network includes KSNT-TV in Topeka, KSNW-TV in Wichita, and KSNF-TV, which serves the Joplin, Mo., and Pittsburg markets.

The KSN Network request should be celebrated — it is almost unheard of for a media organization to add a Statehouse bureau. The opposite is far more common.

A 2014 Pew Research Center study showed that the number of full-time statehouse reporters in the United States declined by 35 percent from 2003 to 2014, as newspapers, which account for nearly 40 percent of all statehouse reporters, found it harder and harder to justify keeping their statehouse bureaus open amid staff reductions prompted by increasing financial challenges.

Kansas had eight full-time Statehouse reporters as of 2014, a ratio of one reporter for every 356,640 Kansans. That ranked Kansas 25th among the 50 states.

Newspapers like the Journal-World are members of the Kansas Press Association, which does advocate in the Legislature for open records, open meetings and public notices. But it’s a stretch for Schwab to say Statehouse bureaus become lobbying firms. Rather, the bureaus are focused solely on the very important role of providing day-to-day news coverage of state government and Legislative sessions.

Charging rent for media space in the Capitol will only hasten the demise of media statehouse bureaus. That would be a travesty. The coverage of state government the media provide is vital to Kansans and legislators would be wise to look to enhance and expand that coverage, not make it harder to provide.


Louis Kannen 7 months ago

When freedom of Truth dies, so go we...

Bob Smith 7 months ago

If you think the MSM is dedicated to the truth, you are sadly mistaken. Pushing agendas is the norm.

Greg Cooper 7 months ago

If lobbying for a particular ideal is a criteria for denying space in the capital, then much of the Kansas Legislature should be denied free space in which to operate. What a load of bull. All they are afraid of is open, free access to what are public actions.

Calvin Anders 7 months ago

This is all part of the new Republican dogma (largely championed by Trumpster) that the media is bad and efforts by the free press to discover and report actions of government should be deterred. Conservatives don't want reporters snooping around for the truth because it interferes with their narrative and their agenda. Would we ever have had Brownie's horrible tax experiment reversed if news paper and other media reporters in the state had not been reporting on the shady and disingenuous Republican agenda in the capital? We need to look past the surface and examine the agenda of moves like this. The agenda here, I'm pretty sure, is to silence the media and allow the legislature to push forward their donor's agenda without scrutiny.

Bob Smith 7 months ago

The media was a pack of co-conspirators for the last administration. They only discovered they could do any reporting once the President was no longer a Democrat.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 months ago

We are talking about Topeka here, Bob. There aren't too many Democrats there and no president. Try and read the article.

Paul Beyer 7 months ago

Rest assured,If fox asked for space, everyone else would get evicted to make space for them.

Michael Kort 7 months ago

This is the rise of fascism and the desire of some to simply control the media by exclusion of media outlets that they personally choose to exclude and those atempting to do this should be removed from office because they are unfit to serve this country !

When in this countries history has our press been BEHOLDING to non profit donors and their "so called no strings (?) generosity" for their jobs ?........ or employed by the largess of the state ?

Sounds like the Hitler model to me .

The grand supporters of free enterprise except when it comes to telling the truth in the news !......then they want state approved non profits who can be decertified if they dare to question authority !..........SICK !

Michael Kort 7 months ago

Aren't these the basic same republican jackals who want to defund PBS and NPR ............that they can not control that tell the truth about them ?

To be sure they wish to have controllable non profits that they can fund or defund reporting on the news as they want to manipulatthose reports to the public .

Fascists !

Calvin Anders 7 months ago

Michael, I think corporate interests have pretty much figured out how to control (or at least heavily temper) NPR and PBS coverage of issues that really threaten their profits. Global warming for instance gets far less coverage now that the Kochs and other big donors are giving them so much money. That's not just a Republican marginalization of news. Democrats and Republicans are willing to look the other way as long as donors keep the money rolling in. Republicans do like to call out NPR and PBS and try to take away their funding but I think that's more about political theater.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 months ago

Well, the Koch brothers did donate a whole lot of money to NPR, so you could be right. I mean they started reporting both sides of the climate change issue. Oh wait, they always did that.

Bob Smith 7 months ago

The Koch brothers also financed the recent Wonder Woman movie.

Calvin Anders 7 months ago

But you see Dorothy, that's all the Koch brothers want. They want their bought news organizations to present "both sides". A little about concern about rising sea levels and then a platform for some argument that the science isn't settled. This is the same game cigarette manufacturers used and the same game petroleum manufactures used to avoid pulling lead out of gasoline for decades. The Kochs just need a little room to sow doubt and their money buys them that room. Just as our legislators can't really take corporate donor money and remain object and doctors can't take big pharma money and remain object, public TV and radio can't take big petrol money and remain object.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 months ago

Mostly when you present both sides the anti environment oil guys don't come off very well. Also when you let people like Spenser and Duke speak. People see their hate and realize how awful they are and many who would just sit by and do nothing mobilize.

Michael Kort 7 months ago

Gee, maybe some people from Fox News other than the gone elsewhere Megan Kelly could get in.......could Bill Oriley get in.....Rush Limbagh refused ? about the now free agent Steve Bannon ?

If you are rich just create any non profit lie that you want to about the Americans For Prosperity News that could sell a paper or service to their supporters as long as it was non profit organized or the smart "ALEC PRESS" .

Schwab is either clueless or evilly inclined !

Another of the Republican genius who have been ruining this state for the last six years with their tax nonsense .

How well did that all work out ? .......and now their president is hurting Ks farmers who could have exported meat thru the trans pacific treaty the he simply unilaterally tore up .......well, they voted for these people........ so they got what they voted for ( B.S. ) and which papers endorsed their fascist Republican candidates ?

Michael Kort 7 months ago

These legislators are just jealous of KIM JUNG UN..........." OLD-YOUNG KIM " ....gets " The News From North Korea Read The Way That He Wants It Read " and by God our Ks legislators think that they are " ABUSED " by any sort of uncontrollable independents press ( ! ) .OUR KS. POOR THEM LEGISLATORS !

Thomas Bryce Jr. 7 months ago

Space will be reserved for news outlets that print or report "favorable content" of the Kansas Legislature and Cabinet members.. Just watch !

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