Press Credentials and Hybrid Boundary Zones: The Case of WorldNetDaily and the Standing Committee of Correspondents


Press credentialing practices are a vital, yet understudied site of scholarly research on journalistic norms and practices. Press credentialing not only structures internal professional hierarchies, but they also signify the boundaries of the journalistic field itself. This paper explores the legal and theoretical implications of press credentialing to cover the United States Congress, drawing on the concepts of boundary work and journalistic authority to demonstrate the material impact of the space between fields on professional legitimation in journalism. Using WorldNetDaily (WND) as a case study, I argue that the Standing Committee of Correspondents (SCC) occupies a hybrid boundary zone between the journalistic and political fields, generating a unique tension in First Amendment jurisprudence that places journalists in a paradoxical role as both the professional embodiments of free speech and its constitutional steward. The resulting jurisdictional conflict between the SCC and WND extends the relational model of journalistic authority by articulating how journalist-state relations can fundamentally augment the process of legitimation at its fuzzy boundaries. The relevance and implications for press credentialing practices in the digital age are discussed.

In Journalism Practice
Jordan M. Foley
PhD Candidate | Assistant Director of Debate

Jordan Foley is a doctoral candidate in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also serves as the assistant director of the UW debate team.