WHERE’S THAT ‘ERA OF OPE­NESS’?

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics -

Thirty-eight na­tional jour­nal­ism groups have writ­ten their own head­lines about the state of press re­la­tions with the White House, and the federal govern­ment in gen­eral. In an open let­ter to Pres­i­dent Obama, the So­ci­ety of Pro­fes­sional Jour­nal­ists and other or­ga­ni­za­tions have de­manded more ac­cess, and less of­fi­cial in­ter­ven­tion from pub­lic in­for­ma­tion of­fices.

“Over the past two decades, pub­lic agencies have in­creas­ingly pro­hib­ited staff from com­mu­ni­cat­ing with jour­nal­ists un­less they go through pub­lic af­fairs of­fices or through po­lit­i­cal ap­pointees. This trend has been es­pe­cially pro­nounced in the federal govern­ment. We con­sider these re­stric­tions a form of cen­sor­ship —an at­tempt to con­trol what the pub­lic is al­lowed to see and hear,” reads the let­ter, signed by David Cuil­lier, pres­i­dent of the so­ci­ety, plus 37 other groups that in­clude the Na­tional News­pa­per As­so­ci­a­tion and the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of News Ed­i­tors.

“The sti­fling of free ex­pres­sion is hap­pen­ing de­spite your pledge on your first day in of­fice to bring ‘a new era of open­ness’ to federal govern­ment,” the let­ter states. “Re­cent re­search has in­di­cated the prob­lem is get­ting worse through­out the na­tion, par­tic­u­larly at the federal level. Jour­nal­ists are reporting that most federal agencies pro­hibit their em­ploy­ees from com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the press un­less the bosses have pub­lic re­la­tions staffers sit­ting in on the con­ver­sa­tions. Con­tact is of­ten blocked com­pletely.”

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