March 8, 2016
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#124 Second Class Journalists
Should journalists have control over what other journalists have access to? Allison Smith is the publisher of Queen's Park Today, a daily news website that reports on Ontario politics. For the last four years, the Queen's Park Press Gallery - a group of journalists - has denied her membership on dubious grounds.

Allison Smith’s Twitter: @QueensParkToday

Full statement from Queen’s Park Press Gallery President Randy Rath, of CHCH:

Membership in the Queen’s Park Press Gallery is decided in a manner similar to other press galleries in Canada: by a vote of members, according to guidelines outlined in the Gallery constitution.

Some of the key provisions in the Queen’s Park Press Gallery constitution regarding membership include:

Media organizations eligible for Gallery membership “shall adhere to generally accepted journalistic principles and practices as are understood and determined by the Executive of the Ontario Legislative Press Gallery.”

“internet media” shall mean any internet service or site that is available freely or by general subscription. This does not include services that simply re-broadcast events that occur at Queens Park

The following professionals are ineligible for membership in the Press Gallery: Persons who receive money for lobbying; Persons who receive money for providing communications advice to a third party; (i.e. flacks or consultants)

A member may not represent the interests of, or provide communications advice to political parties, governments, extra-legislative groups or clients other than those defined in the membership bylaws.

Allison Smith’s website describes “Queen’s Park Today” as providing a daily report consisting of:  “a summary of the previous day’s debates and proceedings, an agenda of the upcoming day’s business, summaries of important news releases, listings for political events and more.”

By voting to reject Allison Smith’s membership, a majority of Gallery members determined that her website “Queen’s Park Today” did not meet the criteria laid out in the constitution.

The Press Gallery has rejected several other applications for membership by sole proprietors of websites that failed to meet the stated criteria for membership.

Membership in the Press Gallery implicitly endorses a member’s journalistic legitimacy and credibility. As such, the Gallery must ensure that those who are granted membership adhere to journalistic principles.

A copy of the Queen’s Park Press Gallery constitution is attached for your reference.

Randy Rath

CHCH | A Channel Zero Company

Queen’s Park Press Gallery Constitution

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