What’s a Blogger? In Kentucky, Someone with No Press Credentials

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(AP) Mark Nickolas still plans to report on the 2006 General Assembly, but he won’t be doing it with members of the traditional press.

State officials are telling Nickolas, the operator of the bluegrassreport.org blog, and his fellow bloggers that they aren’t journalists and won’t be granted press credentials, access to the House and Senate floors or the Capitol entrances generally closed to the public.

The decision has irritated Nickolas and other bloggers.

“What are the standards going to be?” asked Nickolas, a former Democratic campaign manager who lives in Bourbon County. “Is it ‘Do you reach an audience?’ Well, I must reach as big an audience as some weekly newspapers.”

There are now millions of blogs — shorthand for web log — in the United States, covering everything from the mundane details of the blogger’s life to news to opinion pieces.

The Legislative Research Commission, hit with a handful of blogger requests this winter, opted to issue press credentials only to print and broadcast news outlets, said Rob Weber, public information officer.

Weber said he consulted the National Conference of State Legislatures, in Colorado, to learn how other state governments view bloggers. The LRC policy might be changed in the future, he said.

“Mainly, we have limited space for the press in the areas we set aside in each of the chambers,” Weber said.

Blogger David Adams, a banking services salesman from Jessamine County who posts opinions on kyprogress.blogspot.com, said the policy discriminates against bloggers, who aren’t part of the traditional media structure.

“I told them I may not be a quote-unquote ‘working journalist,’ I’m not with the mainstream media, but I do have a Web site,” Adams said.

Nickolas, who regularly attacks Gov. Ernie Fletcher and other Republicans, agreed he’s not an objective journalist. But he also does original reporting about state government, digging into records and raising questions about politicians.

Nickolas said 2,000 to 3,000 people visit his Web site in a typical week.

Besides, Adams said, the House and Senate press sections are, on most days, mostly empty, with only a few reporters sitting in either chamber.

Adams said state officials need to evolve. He and Nickolas, although they are political opponents, plan to appeal the LRC’s decision next week.

“They told me they wanted proof that somebody has a — what did they call it? — a tangible work product,” Adams said. “All you need to do is pull up my site and hit ‘print,’ and you’ve got it.”

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