Open-Government Groups Urge Obama To ‘Let The Sunshine In’
Thirty-eight journalism and open-government organizations signed a letter to President Obama calling for more transparency.
The letter — an effort led by the Society of Professional Journalists and the Society of Environmental Journalists — laments a time when reporters walked the halls in federal agencies and had easy access to government officials. Today, public relations personnel are generally required present during pre-screened media interviews and decide who's allowed access.
"Under this administration, even non-defense agencies have asserted in writing their power to prohibit contact with journalists without surveillance," the letter reads. "Meanwhile, agency personnel are free speak to others — lobbyists, special-interest representatives, people with money — without these controls and without public oversight."
The letter cites specific forms of information control:
- Officials blocking reporters’ requests to talk to specific staff people;
- Excessive delays in answering interview requests that stretch past reporters’ deadlines;
- Officials conveying information “on background,” refusing to give reporters what should be public information unless they agree not to say who is speaking;
- Federal agencies blackballing reporters who write critically of them.
Read the letter in full at SPJ's website.