Today marks a small step in the acceptance of blogs as legitimate news sources: Mayor Bloomberg took two questions from Gothamist’s Jen Chung during a press conference about a mysterious maple syrup smell. But more than four years after Gothamist first applied for official press credentials, neither Chung nor anybody else associated with the website has received any.
Gothamist is a hugely popular, and highly credible, website. It gets 4.8 million pageviews a month, compared to 1.9 million for the New York Observer and just 15,000 for the Brooklyn Paper — both of which have no difficulty at all getting credentials.
Over the six years since Gothamist launched (February 2003, it seems like yesterday), it has become a much-relied-on news source for New Yorkers of all stripes. Yet in order to get into today’s press conference, Chung had to be specifically invited, met outside, and escorted in to City Hall by the mayor’s press secretary.
Press credentials in New York are given out by the NYPD, which is incomprehensibly sticking to its determination that a website, pretty much by definition, cannot be working press. And evidently the mayor’s office, rather than simply telling the NYPD to wake up, finds it easier to just circumvent the NYPD entirely.
"Before the MSM bitches about the poor quality of blogger reportage, they should ask if the bloggers have access to any of the tools and resources they take for granted," notes Gothamist’s publisher Jake Dobkin, not unreasonably. In any case there is still clearly a stigma which attaches itself to online publications, and which can only be erased by appearing on paper. It won’t last forever, but I’m astonished that it’s lasted as long as it has.