Last month, the Serjeant at Arms politely informed me that I wouldn’t be joining Her Majesty’s Press Corp any time soon. Despite having thousands of readers, a more profitable business model than most newspapers, and a track record of breaking stories and shaping new cycles, the Lobby blocked my application.
As a lubricated MP put it a few days later, “You see it as a pass, they see it as a club. Why would they let you in? They're threatened.” But the security services had no problem with my joining. The Serjeant at Arms put it to the Press Gallery committee, who collectively said, "No." The reason given was that our editorial aims don't fit their nondescript 'criteria'.
Apparently, they feared I wouldn’t play by the rules, and that we didn't cover parliamentary procedure, yet I can't see how the Guido Fawkes’ mission to inform and entertain is different from that of any other columnist or sketchwriter.
Despite enjoying friendships and working relations with many members, we're still seen as cocky bloggers, not real journalists. But we’re in it for the same reasons – to report the truth. Many seasoned Lobby journalists and TV guys spend as much time blogging and tweeting as they do on traditional output. POLITCO.com has one of the best seats in the White House briefing room, but this side of the pond the idea that a blogger who wasn’t previously a print hack would be recognised in such a way instils terror in many hearts.
Three years ago, the protectionism excuse might have been valid. Lobby journalists were concerned that bloggers would blow their scoops and front pages. But today, given many news outlets publish stories online immediately, the playing field is level.
Deep down, they must know there's no justification for fighting the inevitable decline of their closed shop.
Harry Cole is news editor of www.order-order.com