Bloggers Get Press Credentials for Scooter Libby Trial
The Washington Post reports that two of the coveted media seats in the Scooter Libby trial will go to bloggers.
After two years of negotiations with judicial officials across the country, the Media Bloggers Association, a nonpartisan group with about 1,000 members working to extend the powers of the press to bloggers, has won credentials to rotate among his members. The trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the highest-ranking Bush administration official to face criminal charges, could "catalyze" the association's efforts to win respect and access for bloggers in federal and state courthouses, said Robert Cox, the association's president.
Firedoglake announced last week that with the aid of Arianna Huffington, it had been granted a press pass for the trial.
This is a pretty big deal. It's hard to get a press pass for the actual courtroom in a high-profile case, as opposed to the overflow courtroom, where you only get to hear audio of what's going on. It's just not the same. You can't see the jurors or watch the body language of the trial participants. Even major tv networks usually only get a few seats in the courtroom, with the rest of their reporters and pundits having to be in the overflow courtroom.
Another hurdle is that there usually is a "media consortium" that handles press passes and the like for high profile trials....and it's very expensive to be a part of it because participating media organizations must share the expenses.
Another prohibitive cost for a single blogger wanting to follow a trial.... access to and cost of daily transcripts. The most reliable reporting, in my opinion, comes from those who attend the trial, read all the pleadings filed in the case and review the transcripts.
But this is big progress for bloggers, and I hope we see more of it in the future.
Update: I just heard from Robert Cox of Media Bloggers. They requested the overflow room because the Court has agreed to put in WiFi so they can live-blog the trial - and there will be video in the overflow room not just audio so they can watch everything. Given these details, the overflow room sounds like the way to go. Congrats to the Media Bloggers Association.
Update: More at the NRO's Media Blog.
Update: Firedoglake (in conjunction with HuffPo) has scored two seats, one in the actual courtroom where laptops, cameras and cell phones are not allowed, and one in the overflow courtroom with wi-fi where laptops will be allowed for live-blogging.
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