CHP: No More Press Passes

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After years of being the state agency that credentials members of the press, the California Highway Patrol has decided to stop the practice, and has declared all of the existing credentials to be invalid.

This is the kind of a story that usually only interests people inside the news business, but I mention it here because it's an interesting example of a state agency that seems to have decided enough is enough.

A few weeks ago, recently appointed CHP Commissioner Michael Brown sent a letter to California members of the media with a valid credential (yours truly included) that said the agency was getting out of the "press pass" business.

Why?

CHP spokesman Tom Marshall says the agency was simply overwhelmed with the job of trying to determine who is-- and is not-- an actual journalist.

Marshall says this year, they've received as many as 10,000 requests for credentials. And in many cases, the credentials have been used by people who aren't journalists, trying to get access to everything from crime scenes to Disneyland. In one case, he says, someone with a CHP press pass tried to use it to get out of a southern California jail.

Marshall says the CHP may agree to endorse a credential in the future, as long as a reputable media organization (like the Society of Professional Journalists, Radio-Television News Directors Association, etc.) is actually the one issuing the document.

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new California Politics & Government Desk. He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades, serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and most recently as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. In 2014, he was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.

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