Briana Heaney Published

Charleston City Council Changes Rules For Press

A view of the West Virginia Capitol Complex across the Kanawha River.Edsel Little

Updated on Wednesday Oct. 4, 2023 at 4:50 p.m.

The Charleston City Council passed two resolutions last night that will change the rules for media members during city council meetings. 

Resolution 24 shuts down the floor ten minutes before and after city council meetings, and Resolution 25 moves the press into the gallery and establishes a credentialing process for members of the press who attend city council meetings. 

Council member Chelsea Steelhammer voted against both resolutions saying they fit into a greater context of anti-journalist and anti-transparency actions that governments are taking. 

“While it’s not completely restricting the media, it is restricting their access on some level,” she said. “It’s preventing them from sitting where they have always sat. You’re literally pushing them back.”

The bill’s sponsor, Chad Robinson, defended the new rules, calling them a safety measure for staff and members of the city council.

“Because there’s been situations where individuals have approached council members, and the mayor, some members feel unsafe in the chamber,” Robinson said. 

He said the council is working to make meetings more easily accessible to members of the media and to the general public. 

“The location of the media now is more accessible to us. It has a better view of the council chambers. And the transparency is not at all going to be affected,” Robinson said. 

The final vote on the resolution was 19 in favor, and 7 against.