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Sweeney’s Senate Secretary Blocks Photo-Blogger Access

Senate Secretary confers with Sergeant at Arms

Senate Secretary confers with Sergeant at Arms

As we all know (or you wouldn’t be reading this), there has been a revolution in media.

As we all also know, there is a severe shortgage of substantive coverage of State House action – particularly on complex environmental issues – by the corporate media.

Press area - The crush of interepid reporters competing for scarce space of course forced ejection of uncredentialed bloggers.

Press area – The crush of interepid reporters competing for scarce space of course forced ejection of uncredentialed bloggers.

The Bergen Record, Asbury Park Press and Philadelphia Inquirer don’t send their environmental reporters to Trenton. And the State House political reporters are spread far too thin and not well suited to covering environmental issues before the legislature. Environmental groups are too busy lobbying to report back to the public and their own members.

As a result, NJ citizens and environmental interests suffer. Unaccountable legislators are given a pass as they ignore strong public support for environmental protection and carry the water of special interests. And they do so with impunity. Legislators say and do things in Trenton that they would never defend back home to constituents. Democracy fails.

In fact, one of my primary objectives in creating this site was to fill voids in Trenton coverage by corporate media, who have abandoned complex public policy issues (thank goodness for NJ Spotlight – “where issues matter“).

I also try to remedy other well documented flaws in corporate media coverage, from the bias, to shallow sound bite deadline driven “he said/she said” coverage, to “fair and balanced” pseudo “objective” styles that allow corporate lobbyists to make sham claims, like the world is flat, global warming is a fraud, and that DEP and environmental regulations are killing the economy.

I am an expert on the issues I write on (more knowledgeable than any Trenton journalist), I work hard at it, and my photos are respectful and of reasonably high quality.

But none of that apparently matters to those cynics with political power in Trenton.

The media policy of the Democrat controlled NJ Senate is desperately holding on to a bygone media age where they controlled the game.

They don’t seem to understand that the world of journalism has changed, or maybe they think that they can ignore it and it will all go away.

The Senate Secretary and his control freak Sergeants at Arms simply refuse to accept the fact that bloggers and sites like WolfeNotes.com deserve the same priviledges and respect as members of the corporate media.

For 3 years now, I have been covering and photographing – without incident – legislative hearings in Trenton. I operate in those hearings in a discrete way and with the express approval of the Committee Chairmen.

After concerns were raised last year by one Sergeant at Arms about my taking photographs from areas restricted to credentialed corporate journalists, I secured former Senate President Dick Codey’s personal approval to do so.

This obviously pissed off someone.

So I was ejected this morning from the press area.

Having discussed this issue with them previously, I immediately walked down to the Senate Majority Office and got Senate President Sweeney’s staffer to over-ride the Sergeant at Arms’ ejection. Well, that really set them off!

As a result, my access privileges apparently have changed for the worse and I’m barred from media areas.

This means I won’t be able to shoot frontal photos of lobbyists testifying.

Ironically the reversal of former Senate President Codey’s open policy was dictated by a former professional journalist, who clearly has a working understanding of the need for access to photograph legislators and those testifying on bills before committees.

Today, despite the approval of Commitee Chairman Paul Sarlo and staff to Senate President Sweeney, recently appointed Secretary of the Senate Kent M. Hicks (also known as former NJN reporter Kent St. John) ejected yours truly from the press corps section of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing.

Mr. St. John/Hicks’ move follows last week’s restriction on photography in the Senate Environment Committee, despite the approval of Chairman Bob Smith.

This is really a debate about the definition of journalism, as unaccountable Sergeants at Arms want control and those with traditional corporate media credentials and access resist competition and democratization of their “profession”, especially by dirty hippie bloggers.

This is also about a bunch of old men with a little power and nothing to do.

I have nothing but contempt for turf protective petty bureaucatic authoritarians like Kent St. John (or Kent Hicks) and his empire of decrepit tin badge Seargents at Arms crew.

Senate President Sweeney should be embarrassed. And while I wasted time writing all this, I didn’t tell you about the bad bills released today! More to follow on that. And hopefully, I’ll do a better job than my absolutely flumoxed and incoherent testimony today!

Sergeants at Arms attend to their important duties!

Sergeants at Arms attend to their important duties!

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  1. zimmerman
    December 17th, 2010 at 12:20 | #1

    And just try to enter 401 East State St to speak to DEP staff. Give that Wolfe guy the full pat-down ! (ha ha ha)

  1. August 25th, 2011 at 16:55 | #1
  2. December 1st, 2011 at 18:20 | #2
  3. June 22nd, 2012 at 11:27 | #3
  4. November 20th, 2019 at 15:41 | #4
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