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AHCJ joins 60 other journalism groups to ask Trump administration for meeting on government access Date: 01/18/17
COLUMBIA, Mo. — 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 to discuss:
the ability of reporters to directly interact with government employees who are subject matter experts, rather than interacting with public information officers (or having all conversations monitored by public information officers);
access to the activities of the president;
and ensuring that the federal Freedom of Information Act remains as strong as possible.
"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.
“We believe strongly that journalists are the eyes and ears of the citizens of the United States,” said Lynn Walsh, National President of the Society of Professional Journalists. “The average American citizen does not have the time or resources to check up on elected officials to make sure they are running the country the way they should. It is up to journalists to help hold those in power accountable.”
This letter is the latest among several that were sent to the Obama administration, since at least 2013, regarding concerns about White House restrictions on photographers, transparency and public information officer restrictions.
The first letter, sent Nov. 21, 2013, addressed concerns regarding White House restrictions on photographers. The next letter, sent July 8, 2014, and a follow-up letter sent Aug. 5, 2014, regarding PIO and transparency issues were met with a response from the White House on Aug. 11, 2014, that the groups found unsatisfactory. This white paper and other articles also provide background on the issue.
“We urge you to publicly affirm your commitment to transparency, to issue an executive order prohibiting the restrictive public information policies that have been the status quo, and to engage in a public discussion with us about the Trump administration’s commitment to the free flow of information from the White House and all federal government, to the American people,” the latest letter states.
The groups hope that together, they and the Trump administration can improve the lines of communication between the White House and the press.
The Association of Health Care Journalists is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing public understanding of health care issues. With about 1,500 members across the United States and around the globe, its mission is to improve the quality, accuracy and visibility of health care reporting, writing and editing. The association and its Center for Excellence in Health Care Journalism provide training, resources and a professional home for journalists. Offices are based at the Missouri School of Journalism.