Wednesday, June 16, 2010

mandatory licensing for thee, but not for me

From Gannett's Gene Policinski in the C-J...

Licensing journalists is an idea that surfaces from time to time. But it's always a bad idea.

Such proposals may originate from grudges held by lawmakers, or a political strategy to typecast journalists as biased and out of touch, or the occasional well-meaning soul who equates journalists with lawyers or doctors.

The latest effort arose in Michigan, where a state legislator proposed a state board through which journalists would voluntarily register -- at $10 per license -- and that would certify them as having "good moral character" and a basic level of training and experience.

A great position which can be based on a practical/economics or Constitutional basis. (Gene runs with the latter.) But I wonder if Gene and the C-J are (equally) opposed to all sorts of other mandatory licensing-- e.g., from peanuts to hair cutters, from taxi cabs to paralegals?

To Gene's credit, most of the clamor for licensing is usually internal-- where special interest groups want to use the government to restrict their competition. In any case, the practical and Constitutional concerns should still be consistent.


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