In two days in December, the Charleston Gazette-Mail published two blockbuster articles about the opioid crisis in West Virginia, the results of months of reporting by Eric Eyre, the paper’s statehouse reporter.
Anyone who read them would recognize that Eyre’s work was outstanding, if only for the numbers he included in each piece. Over six years, the nation’s largest drug distributors shipped 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to pharmacies in the state, he reported. In that same period, 1,728 West Virginians fatally overdosed on those two painkillers, he wrote. Drug distributors shipped enough hydrocodone and oxycodone for each of the state’s 1.8 million residents to have 433 pills. Continue reading
Donald J. Trump
The Association of Health Care Journalists, along with more than 80 other organizations committed to the First Amendment right of freedom of speech and the press, is alarmed by efforts by the Trump administration to demonize the media and undermine its ability to inform the public about official actions and policies. In a joint statement released today, the groups stress that the administration’s attacks on the press pose a threat to American democracy.
The statement cites numerous attempts by the administration to penalize and intimidate the press for coverage the president dislikes, including refusing to answer questions from certain reporters, falsely charging the media with cover-ups and manipulation of news, and denying certain media outlets access to press briefings.
Read more and read the statement.
The 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
Donald J. Trump
The Association of Health Care Journalists and 60 other journalism organizations have requested a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence to discuss access to government.
The coalition sent a letter today to Trump and Pence, asking for a meeting or conference call.
“Journalists need to stick together in fighting for government transparency, and this letter – signed by so many journalism groups – is a heartening example of that unity,” said Felice J. Freyer, chair of AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee.
Read the specific concerns in the letter.
The public’s right to information was bolstered by a federal judge’s decision that the U.S. Department of Agriculture should release data about how much taxpayers pay to retailers through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The decision was in response to a lawsuit filed by Argus Leader Media in South Dakota, which had filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the “annual sales amounts of every business in the nation that participates in SNAP. USDA refused to release the data, and the paper filed suit in 2011.” Continue reading