Author Archives: Felice J. Freyer

Felice J. Freyer

About Felice J. Freyer

Felice J. Freyer is AHCJ's treasurer and chair of the organization's Right to Know Committee. She is a health care reporter for The Boston Globe.

AHCJ adds to its ethical framework for journalists’ decisions

values-definitionAHCJ’s board of directors has voted unanimously to add a new item to its Statement of Principles, the association’s compendium of professional and ethical guidelines.

These principles lie at the core of AHCJ’s mission to promote the highest standards of health care journalism, and have been little changed since the organization was founded.

Adding a new principle is a significant move that may prove especially relevant in the years ahead. Continue reading

FDA bans ‘close-hold embargoes’ in response to AHCJ protest

usfda-logoThe Food and Drug Administration has banned a communications practice that troubled journalists and sparked protests from AHCJ and others.

The agency has forbidden its media staff from using “close-hold embargoes,” in which reporters receive early access to information provided they promise not to seek comments from others until the embargo lifts, according to a letter sent Thursday to Karl Stark, president of the Association of Health Care Journalists. Continue reading

AHCJ objects to FDA’s ‘close-hold embargoes,’ requests explanation

Image by Logan Campbell via flickr.

Image by Logan Campbell via flickr.

AHCJ is protesting the Food and Drug Administration’s recent restrictive practices in handling news embargoes and has asked the agency for clarification of its policies.

In an Oct. 11 letter to Jason Young, the FDA’s acting assistant commissioner for media affairs, AHCJ President Karl Stark raised strong objections to the practice of providing embargoed information on the condition that reporters refrain from seeking outside comment until the embargo lifts. Continue reading

Survey of AHCJ members finds biggest access problems at federal level

Source: AHCJ member survey, 2016

Source: AHCJ member survey, 2016

Health journalists seeking information from government agencies often encounter obstacles, especially at the federal level, according to AHCJ’s recent survey. The biggest roadblocks involve delays, bureaucracy, scripted replies, and barriers to interviews, survey respondents said.

Three-quarters said it is difficult to get the information they need from the federal government, and two-thirds reported difficulty getting adequate responses from state government. Continue reading

How AHCJ engages in sustained push for transparency year round

Sunshine Week logoIn early February, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services advertised a telephone question-and-answer session intended for “non-press associated individuals.” Essentially anyone could listen in – except the members of the media. Crazy, right?

But when a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists asked CMS to change the wording of the February invitation, the agency’s press office declined.

Learning of this, Irene Wielawski, chair of AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee, immediately contacted Mark Weber, a high-ranking public affairs official at HHS with whom the committee speaks regularly. Weber took action, and within days, a new invitation went out specifying that the call was open to all interested “people,” with no restrictions on the media.

A small victory – but a swift one, and an example of how a sustained push for government transparency can make a difference. Continue reading