Are Press Credentials Required?

In the United States, we are guaranteed freedom of the press by our constitution, so you may be thinking, are Press Credentials really necessary in order to work as a journalist, or as a member of the press?  Technically no, but as a practical matter, the reality is more complex than a simple “yes or no.”

iNA is aware that Press Credentials are not a requirement to be a good Journalist. Nevertheless, members of the press are often validated by Press Credentials to gain access to otherwise restricted areas to carry out Journalistic functions. Having them at your disposal can be the difference between gaining access to where the story exists, or being denied entry.

For example, there are jurisdictions where it is required to have locally recognized credentials in order to have access to sensitive areas, such as crime or accident scenes, etc. Understandably, legitimate reasons exist for limiting access to some events, but it is also important to remember that, except where national security, or some other security concern exists, freedom of the press should be upheld without restriction throughout our society.

There are private venues where only previously identified members of the press are authorized to attend, or have access to the event. A private event has the right to restrict entry to anyone including the press. There are also locations and events where only recognized members of the press, who previously applied for, and were granted access, by virtue of press credentials are allowed to attend. This varies by location, event, and jurisdiction. Remember, your Press Credentials are a form of identifying you, as well as validating your work.

Fair and honest coverage of an event will usually win you friends in high places, but not always. If officials in your area are not “press friendly,” politely remind them that you have the right to report on public events. In the case of scheduled events, it may be prudent to set up an appointment in advance with local representatives, such as the governor, the mayor, the chief of police-chief, or their respective press organizations.  That way you can petition them to grant you the right to be present as a working member of the press. Nevertheless, whenever necessary, don’t be shy to remind everyone that, in the United States, freedom of the press is the cornerstone of our society.

Press Credentials may not be a prerequisite to work as a journalist, but they are valuable in validating who you are, and what you do. They are often helpful in opening doors, and granting access to special events. Keep in mind, Press Credentials are just a tool to help you with what already do, or aspire to do!