Mayoral candidate Tom Allon says he’ll appoint ‘blue-ribbon’ independent commission to decide who gets press credentials

Tom Allon in a campaign ad. ()
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The city's relationship with the media cooled significantly this past fall as some journalists covering Occupy Wall Street were repeatedly obstructed by police, and others called attention to what has been described as an onerous application process for press credentials.

Now, at least one of the current Democratic mayoral candidates, longshot contender Tom Allon, is channeling the frustrations of the press corps through his campaign.

"Why is it that right now City Hall gets to decide who gets credentialed to cover it?" Allon asks in a press release blasted out this afternoon, the peg of which is his pledge to "appoint a nonpartisan, blue-ribbon independent commission of journalists, publishers, civil rights attorneys, and bloggers to determine the criteria for who is eligible for press credentials."

"That’s like the fox guarding the henhouse," Allon's message continues. "When I am mayor I am going to invite questions from anyone who dedicates themselves to the free and open exchange of information."

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Allon, like Mayor Bloomberg, is the proprietor of a media company (though hardly the juggernaut that is Bloomberg L.P.) which publishes an array of local magazines and newspapers, including one focused on city and state politics. So it might actually have been a surprise (or a betrayal even) if he thought differently on this point.

"In this age of media consolidation and newsroom layoffs," the statement reads in part, "the Mayor owes it to the public to empower our tremendous community newspapers, ethnic media, bloggers and citizen journalists to ask the questions that matter most to their readers. If sunlight is the best disinfectant, it's time that we let the sun shine in to City Hall."

The pledge comes about a week after The Liberal Party, which backed Bloomberg's re-election bid in 2005, announced its decision to back Allon in the 2013 race. Marist had Allon polling at 2 percent as of September. It's hard to imagine an issue more likely to generate positive press than this.

Here's the full press release:

NYC mayoral candidate Tom Allon pledged today that when he is elected mayor he will open up the City Hall press corps to include bloggers and citizen journalists to an unprecedented extent.

Allon, who is the publisher of a family of community newspapers and a former journalist, vowed to make his administration the most open and transparent in the city's history.

"Why is it that right now City Hall gets to decide who gets credentialed to cover it? That’s like the fox guarding the henhouse. When I am mayor I am going to invite questions from anyone who dedicates themselves to the free and open exchange of information, be it through political blogs like Room Eight, True News, and The Perez Notes, or neighborhood blogs like Boogie Downer in the Bronx, Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn, Queens Crap, Washington Square Park Blog in Manhattan or the Staten Island Treasure Blog," said Allon.

"Citizen journalists like Katia Kelly, Rafael Martinez Alequin, Rock Hackshaw, and Heather Letzkus have become one of the great bulwarks against corruption and incompetence we have in this city. In this age of media consolidation and newsroom layoffs, the Mayor owes it to the public to empower our tremendous community newspapers, ethnic media, bloggers and citizen journalists to ask the questions that matter most to their readers. If sunlight is the best disinfectant, it's time that we let the sun shine in to City Hall."

Allon said that rather than the current system of City Hall and the NYPD making the determination who is a legitimate reporter that he would appoint a nonpartisan, blue-ribbon independent commission of journalists, publishers, civil rights attorneys, and bloggers to determine the criteria for who is eligible for press credentials. He emphasized that public safety and security concerns would not be discounted from the new criteria, but that they would not be used as an excuse to curb the freedom of the press.