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.