Should journalists be required to register with a state agency much like auto mechanics, hairdressers or plumbers do currently? According to Michigan Senator Bruce Patterson (R) who serves Michigan's seventh district, that answer is yes.
Patterson introduced just such a bill on May 11 and currently, it's been moved to the legislature's Committee on Economic Development and Regulatory Reform for consideration. So far, Patterson is the only signatory on the bill.
In an interview with FOX News's Jana Winter, Patterson said, "We have to be able to get good information. We have to be able to rely on the source and to understand the credentials of the source."
Under the details of Patterson's proposed law, journalists making application to a state board would have to demonstrate "good moral character" and demonstrate they have industry "ethics standards acceptable to the board;" possession of a degree in journalism or other degree substantially equivalent; not less than three years experience as a reporter or any other relevant background information; awards or recognition related to being a reporter; three or more writing samples; reporters will also have to pay an application and registration fee.
Patterson's is one in a growing chorus of voices that are looking at ways to deal with the rising of the fifth estate — the blogosphere or those journalists not working for a known agency.
Several organizations including the Poynter Institute and the Columbia Journalism Review have addressed the topic of the free flow of information in the digital age and how best to apply common journalistic and ethical standards to those who produce such content.