By John Eggerton
Over three dozen journalist organizations including the Radio Television Digital News Association, National Press Foundation, and the Society of Professional Journalists, have asked the President to drop the “excessive controls” on public information by federal agencies, branding it “politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies.”
There has been an ongoing tension between broadcast, print and online journalists and the Obama administration, with complaints that the Administration has limited access to events, while providing its own “coverage” through official channels.
In a letter to President Obama, the groups complained about policies that require journalists to go through public information officers (PIOs) before talking with staff and that have PIOs vetting interview questions and monitoring interviews with sources.
“You recently expressed concern that frustration in the country is breeding cynicism about democratic government,” the letter began. “You need look no further than your own administration for a major source of that frustration – politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies. We call on you to take a stand to stop the spin and let the sunshine in.”
“The practices have become more and more pervasive throughout America, preventing information from getting to the public in an accurate and timely matter,” said David Cuillier, president of the Society of Professional Journalists, in announcing the letter. “The president pledged to be the most transparent in history. He can start by ending these practices now.”