AHCJ to Obama: Improve access to federal experts

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

The Association of Health Care Journalists has urged President Barack Obama to end inherited policies that require public affairs officers to approve journalists’ interviews with federal staff.

Such policies, which are in place at such critical agencies as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and most agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services, hamper newsgathering and make it difficult for reporters to fulfill their obligation to hold government agencies accountable, AHCJ said in a letter to the Obama administration.

Federal public information officers can play a key role in facilitating and coordinating communication, but have been used in recent years to inhibit the flow of information to the public rather than foster it. AHCJ members have reported waiting for days for permission to conduct an interview, or have had requests ignored or denied entirely.

Read the full statement and see the letter (PDF) that was sent to Obama.

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