Gov. Pete Ricketts limits press rights

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Kaitlynn Breeden, Associate Editor

Hi, it’s me again <3 Just want to remind everyone that this is the opinion section, this is not news, will not be news, and I will be making fun of Pete Ricketts again. This is just my opinion, nothing about this needs to be taken to heart. If you’re a Ricketts stan, maybe skip this one and just read the news section this week.
Anyway, news outlets that want to attend our fantastic Gov. Ricketts press conferences will now have to answer detailed questions about their business model and submit a notarized letter from a manager before they’re given access to ask questions under a new policy the governor’s office unveiled last Thursday.
This new policy was announced after Emily Chen-Newton, the interim managing editor of NOISE, emailed the governor’s office in July 2020 with questions about the pandemic. Get ready to be shocked everyone, because in a turn of events, the email was ignored.
The Ricketts administration denied NOISE administration to the briefings because it deems NOISE “an advocacy organization funded by liberal donors. They are not a mainstream media outlet.”
The Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal Star published a joint article criticizing the decision as an affront to free-press rights and a political move on Ricketts’ part.
The new policy requires news outlets to get credentialed by filling out a 12-question application and submitting a notarized letter from a manager confirming that reporters work for the outlet they claim and don’t receive payment from other sources.
The governor’s office will review whether applicants maintain “journalistic integrity” by confirming whether they’re a “bona fide journalist” and have no “real or perceived” conflicts of interests, among other factors. Funnyily enough people, the policy does not apply to state agency press conferences that don’t include Ricketts.
So, if we put on our thinking hats, what I have gathered from this is that Ricketts can’t handle bad press. Dawaune Lamont Hayes, who founded NOISE in 2018, said the criteria for this new policy is so vague and subjective that they allow the governor’s office staffers to shut out any news outlet they choose at any time.
Hayes said the policy could be applied to any news outlet that asks hard questions or writes less-than-flattering stories about Ricketts or his administration.
I’m not saying all press about Ricketts should be bad, but if you were f****** up, wouldn’t you want someone to tell you? Every politician gets less-than-flattering editorials written about them. But it’s an editorial, it’s not news coverage.
There is a distinct difference, and you can tell by what section of a paper you’re reading. If you can’t handle the heat, maybe, oh I don’t know, step down as a politician?
Don’t come for my neck about this, Nebraska’s two largest newspapers covered, and criticized, this new policy as well. Ricketts seemingly created a policy that keeps him from having to answer hard questions in regards to the pandemic, him shutting out migrant children, and all the other things he’s done but is unwilling to be asked about.
You cannot expect to grow as a leader if you’re unwilling to take criticism from the media and citizens of your state.
You also cannot expect to only have Republican media at your conferences because you are a Republican. If only Republican leaning media sources cover our state news, don’t you think that creates a bias?
Ricketts can’t take criticism, and this is a clear attempt of his administration trying to block freedom of the press and freedom of speech and deny access to public information.
On NOISE’s website, it says the organization’s goal is to “do community-based journalism that provides useful information and holds representatives and systems accountable.” If Ricketts and his lame administration can’t hold themselves accountable, then who’s going to?