NOTE: A previous version of AHCJ’s news release said that eight medical groups have policies that ban photography and recording at their meetings. In fact, only four have outright bans. Other groups have varying levels of restrictions. Please read the updated version of the release.
The Association of Health Care Journalists has asked eight medical organizations to end their policies that bar journalists from recording or photographing the meetings where new scientific research is presented.
Such policies make it difficult for journalists to provide complete and accurate information to the public. Most medical societies do not bar recording and photography – but those that do include such prominent organizations as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Association for Cancer Research.
“At medical society meetings, speakers often present extensive methods and volumes of data at a rapid pace,” said letters to the medical groups from AHCJ. “It is not physically possible to write fast enough to get it all down. It is easier for everyone, including your staff and presenting researchers, if writers can record and photograph what they need.”
The letters note the difficulties that these stringent policies create for all concerned. Writers have to chase down speakers after the fact, the press room staff has to connect speakers with reporters who need to clarify information, and speakers have to take time to repeat what they had already said.