After a long saga and multiple lawsuits, City Hall has officially proposed new rules for issuing press passes to members of the NYC media, even those whose work appears only on the Internet. According to the NYC Law Department, the rules would be implemented to help the Police Department "modernize the City’s credentialing system to reflect changes to the media industry and, for the first time, expressly incorporate online-only media such as blogs." Gothamist has tried to obtain press passes for almost six years; besides allowing journalists to report during emergencies, the credentials greatly facilitate attending non-emergency events like mayoral press conferences.

The rules have been revised in response to a lawsuit brought by Norman Siegel on behalf of three online-journalists that had their applications for press passes denied. Some reporters have criticized the NYPD's vague process of determining who gets press passes, and one former Newsday reporter filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming that his rejection was "strictly retaliatory," because of his past reportage on NYPD issues.

"The new rules will enable journalists to gather and report news in a more successful manner than before," said Norman Siegel, one of the attorneys in the lawsuit. "Online journalists will now be considered as 21st century journalists and be treated equally to print, television and radio journalists." So next time there's a rat stuck in the sidewalk, or exploding manholes, or a mysterious maple syrup odor, we hope to march right past the police barricades to bring your first-hand reportage. Below, peruse the new rules, copied and pasted with that signature blogger finesse which the MSM can only dream of replicating:

Under the proposed new rules published today, to obtain a press credential, an applicant must show that he or she has covered, in person, six news events where the City has restricted access, within the two-year period preceding the application. In addition to employees of traditional news gathering organizations, the new rules cover self-employed newspersons and other individuals who gather and report the news. The new press card will be issued every two years.

A press card allows its bearer, with the approval of police, to cross certain barriers established by the City at news events. Many non-City entities also rely on the City press card to distinguish who is a member of the media.

The proposed rules continue the issuance of “reserve cards” that allow news organizations to credential a reporter for a specific assignment. The proposal also provides for the continuation of the issuance of a “single event press card” which will be available to journalists who have pre-registered and need the credentials to cover a single event. The reserve card and the single event card eliminate the “chicken or the egg” problem that exists for a prospective press card applicant who has not yet covered, in person, six news events.

The proposed rules allow for the creation of a press card, reserve card, and single event card, eliminating the “Press Identification Card.”

The proposed rules establish timeframes for granting or denying press card applications, and also for hearings and appeals concerning the denial of an application.

A public comment period on the proposed new rules begins today and extends through April 7, 2010. On that day, a hearing on the rules, open to the public, will be held at Police Headquarters in Lower Manhattan.