Rep. Mike Pitts is seen on July 8, 2015, in Columbia, S.C.
John Bazemore—AP
By Melissa Chan
January 19, 2016

A South Carolina lawmaker on Tuesday introduced a bill that would require journalists in the state to be listed in a registry and vetted before they are hired by a media outlet.

Republican State Rep. Mike Pitts said the legislation would create a panel of experts to determine if a person qualifies as a journalist, similar to the process doctors and lawyers go through, The Post and Courier reports.

The bill, titled “South Carolina Responsible Journalism Registry Law,” would also keep a “responsible journalism registry” and outline requirements for reporters to reach before they can work in the media. Journalists would also face “minor fines” if they violate the law.

Pitts, who last year made headlines for his efforts to keep the Confederate flag flying at the South Carolina State House, told The Post and Courier he is “not a press hater” and said the bill is needed to make sure journalists adhere to a code of ethics. He added that the bill is at least partially in response to the press “demonizing guns and gun ownership.”

“The problem that I have with the printed press is, like I said, it appears especially in the last decade to me each story has become more editorial than reporting,” he said. “It might just be my perception.”

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