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article imageMN Sen. Norm Coleman Bars 'Citizen Journalists' at TheUptake.Org Again

By Stephen Dohnberg     Nov 11, 2008 in Politics
For the third time in the last month, MN Sen. Norm Coleman barred access to self described 'citizen journaliist' outlet TheUptake.Org. On top of curiosity about the recount, a discussion of whether 'citizen journalism' is indeed, journalism will emerge.
St. Paul,MN - For the third time in just over a month, Republican Senator Norm Coleman's staff has denied access to self described "citizen journalist" organization www.TheUptake.org.
In all three instances, staffers barred access for reporter Chuck Olsen, and most recently reporter Tom Elko, each time saying that press event access was for "legitimate media only". Echoing Olsen's questions from previous denials, Elko plead "what do I have to do to get press credentials with you guys?" after a a campaign staffer said "I don't have time for this"
Chuck Olsen is also a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).
TheUptake.Org are not the only media organization that the Coleman campaign has denied access to. Minnesota Independent were also denied access despite receiving press releases. MN Indy's Paul Schmelzer made the same inquiry about gaining press access, only to be told by Coleman staffer Tom Erickson that only "legitimate media" were to be allowed access.
Both the MN Indy and theuptake.org have reported extensively from the campaign trail, and TheUptake.Org included breaking coverage from the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention, as well as having "credentialed" reporters in Chicago for the Nov 4 election.
Speaking to TheUptake.org's Mike McIntee, he indicates that they have made repeated attempts to communicate with the Coleman campaign, "we've been asking asking them what their criteria is...they basically have not responded at all. It's impossible to have a conversation with someone who won't acknowledge you."
The Coleman campaign has refused to answer questions of TheUptake.org's reporters at publicly held functions, also.
TheUptake.org have garnered a strong reputation for their coverage of this election cycle, asking the toughest questions,as McIntee notes,"of both the Democrats AND the Republicans" TheUptake.org were there to ask questions of Ramsey County officials after the questionable police actions at the Republican National Convention, as well as providing footage of the Denver police's hidden detention facilities on the Platte River prior to the Denver National Convention in Colorado.
After making an attempt to speak with the Coleman campaign, a staffer declined to comment at this time, I did however leave contact information if they wanted to offer comment.
Minnesota is making news as the Senate race garners national attention after incumbent Senator Coleman squeaked by Satirst, Writer, and Comedian Al Franken, who is running against Coleman on the DFL ticket. By law, any tally that comes under .5% requires an automatic recount. The most current vote difference has Coleman ahead by 204 votes, down 17 votes from last weeks unofficial tally.
The Minnesota Secretary of State office has not posted any official results yet.
As Olsen comments in his video posting on the theuptake.org's 'Mogulus' video page, theuptake.org is actually a "hybrid organization of citizen journalists and professtional journalists" He continues "what happens to one journalist happens to all journalists".
disclosure: the author of this piece has submitted work, on occasion, to theuptake.org
More about Citizen journalism, Senate races, Norm coleman, Recounts, Franken
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