Media Gets Banned From the Arkansas House Floor
Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Over the objections of news media representatives, an Arkansas House of Representatives committee on Friday endorsed a plan to require that print and radio reporters no longer cover the chamber’s activities from the House floor.
In the future, these reporters would work from a gallery overlooking the House chamber from the fourth floor of the state Capitol. The House is on the third floor. The view from the fourth is partly obstructed by a pillar and a railing, and much of the House chamber can’t be seen by reporters seated at what the new plan would provide as their work area.
The Management Committee signaled its approval of House Speaker Bill Stovall’s plan by awarding a $118,740 contract to Austin Construction Co. of Little Rock to remodel part of the House.
But Tom Larimer, executive director of the Arkansas Press Association, told the committee that covering the House from the fourth floor is like "covering the Razorback game from the parking lot.
"You are there, but you don’t get the essence. You don’t get the body language. You don’t get the eyesight," he said.
Afterward, Stovall didn’t agree with Larimer’s analogy.
"We are not denying access to the press or the public," he said.