AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee is launching a new strategy for tracking and combating the obstacles that health care reporters confront when seeking information.
Starting today, journalists can quickly and easily report the difficulties they encounter as soon as they occur, by clicking on the “Trouble Getting Information?” link on AHCJ’s homepage (on the right side, under “Advocacy”).
The link leads to a form in which people can detail their problem, whether it be an unresponsive spokesperson, hidden data, or denied access – at any level of government or in the private sector. These submissions can be anonymous, but providing your contact information will enhance our ability to respond.
As soon as a report is filed, leaders of the Right to Know Committee will be notified. We will consider whether we can intervene or provide help. These reports will also enable us to aggregate information, identify trends and target our advocacy efforts.
Reporters work quickly and move on to the next story, without always preserving records (or memories) of their struggles. This initiative provides an immediate opportunity to report problems as they happen, boosting the Right to Know Committee’s long-standing campaign for openness.
“Our recent survey about the challenges journalists face covering COVID-19 highlighted the many issues newsrooms experience as they try to access public health information,” said Sabriya Rice, an AHCJ board member and vice chair of AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee.
The survey showed, for example, that reporters were denied much-needed access to public health experts, and some had been blocked from speaking with them altogether. Problems arose in every level of government, making it difficult to provide facts to the public.
“We felt it was important to begin tracking these issues to better inform our efforts, and whenever possible, to assist our members in overcoming obstacles,” Rice said.