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Ventura slams media with unflattering press passes

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    NMU         MINNESOTA         Newsgathering         Feb 21, 2001    

Ventura slams media with unflattering press passes

  • Credentials stigmatize reporters as ‘jackals,’ but governor backs off after calling it a joke and not requiring reporters to wear the badges.

Gov. Jesse Ventura’s outspoken criticism of the press turned into a direct insult on Feb. 20 when news organizations received the newly designed press passes for statehouse reporters that compared them to wild dogs.

After handing out press credentials to more than 30 journalists, David Ruth, the governor’s spokesman told The Associated Press that the administration was simply “having a little fun with things” when it printed “Official Jackal” next to the reporters’ names.

But many journalists failed to find humor in Ventura’s latest jab. Representatives from the AP, the St. Paul Pioneer Press and The Star Tribune called the design degrading and unprofessional. The Pioneer Press reporters returned the badges to Ventura’s communications office, according to an AP report.

Along with the design, news organizations questioned the stipulation printed on the back of the card that allowed officials to revoke the credential for any reason. Ruth told the AP that the governor’s office would not change any access rules and that journalists were not required to wear the controversial credentials.

“While this may have been intended as a joke, we take this matter seriously and will not subject AP staffers to wearing something that may be intended to demean them and their profession,” said David Pyle, Minnesota bureau chief for the AP.

The large plastic badge sports a full-body shot of Ventura pointing to the camera. “Official Jackal” is a play on the title of Ventura’s second book, “Do I Stand Alone? Going to the Mat Against Political Pawns and Media Jackals.”


© 2001 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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