On Thursday we reported that local blogger Melissa Westbrook was not allowed to ask questions during a Sept. 15 Seattle School Board press conference. According to Westbrook, officials refused to provide press credentials because she was not a "real journalist." Reached by phone, district spokeswoman Teresa Wippel said the event was for media organizations that "provide unbiased coverage and subscribe to journalistic ethics." Wippel added, "It is our opinion that Ms. Westbrook’s blog does not fit into that category."

However, SPS spokeswoman Patti Spencer sent an email Friday night to say that bloggers could ask questions at future press conference. "Our practice is to include bloggers in news releases and media roundtables, and now in press conferences," Spencer said. "Seattle Public Schools’ interaction with those who report on and comment on education evolves along with changes in the media industry and the ways in which our community accesses information."

Welcome to the modern day, Seattle Schools.

Not all news outlets and blogs—ahem—strive to provide opinion-neutral coverage (neither do the editorial pages of traditional media outlets). And while The Stranger often disagrees with Westbrook, who opposed last year's school levy, the more critical discussion about our school district in an era when there are fewer reporters, the better.

Specifically, Spencer says that in the past Westbrook and the general public were allowed to ask questions after news conferences—but only to approach individual speakers, after reporters were done with questions. Now Westbrook and other bloggers may raise questions during the formal Q&A period with reporters. Critics found the incident a bad PR move on the part of the school district. And it looks like SPS paid attention.