LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska governor’s office has approved press credentials for an online, Omaha-based news outlet that was initially denied access to the governor’s news conferences.
NOISE Omaha was approved Wednesday to cover the official briefings with the governor, according to the Omaha World-Herald.
“It’s good news. … We’re happy we can get back to doing our jobs,” said Myles A. Davis, interim executive director of NOISE, which stands for North Omaha Information Support Everyone.
A NOISE Omaha reporter had repeatedly tried to submit remote questions to Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts during his coronavirus news conferences, and eventually showed up in person at an event when they weren’t answered. She was then told she lacked credentials, even though the governor’s office had no formal credentialing process at the time.
The incident prompted the governor’s office to create a formal policy to determine who is allowed to attend Ricketts’ press conferences at the Capitol. The initial policy was revised after news outlets objected to application questions that they considered subjective and irrelevant.
A spokesman for Ricketts, a Republican, had previously argued that NOISE Omaha was “an advocacy organization funded by liberal donors,” rather than a mainstream news outlet, an allegation the outlet denied.
NOISE Omaha is a nonprofit that covers issues relevant to north Omaha, a predominantly Black and heavily Democratic area of the city. The outlet has written stories recently about the federal ban on evictions that’s ending this month, opposition to a new juvenile justice center and a history of the word “pig” as slang for police officer.
The outlet receives funding from a variety of nonprofit donors, but the one that has drawn the most attention is the Sherwood Foundation, a group founded by Omaha philanthropist Susie Buffett that has funded liberal advocacy organizations. Other donors to the outlet include the Omaha Community Foundation and the American Journalism Project.
NOISE says on its homepage that it discloses all donors who give more than $5,000 a year. The outlet said it doesn’t accept donations from anonymous sources or those that might create a conflict of interest.