Author Archives: Felice J. Freyer

Felice J. Freyer

About Felice J. Freyer

Felice J. Freyer is AHCJ's vice president and chair of the organization's Right to Know Committee. She is a health care reporter for The Boston Globe.

Journalism groups ask candidates to take a stand on press freedoms

Photo: Rhk111 via Wikimedia Commons

Will the next president respect the rights of a free press? It’s a question vital to democracy, yet rarely posed to candidates.

Hoping to make press freedoms a topic of discussion in the 2020 presidential campaign, the National Press Club’s Journalism Institute collaborated with other groups to develop a questionnaire that was circulated to all the candidates in November. Continue reading

AHCJ joins groups urging Congress to address communication between journalists and federal agencies

The Association of Health Care Journalists has joined the Society of Professional Journalists and 25 other journalism and open government groups in urging every member of Congress to support unimpeded communication with journalists for all federal employees.

“It is essential to public welfare and democracy that this issue is addressed. Not allowing experts to speak freely to reporters is authoritarian and keeps sources from explaining a variety of things that are the public’s business,” the groups say in a letter sent to Congress members today.

“This ‘Censorship by PIO’ works in tandem with other assaults on free speech including restrictions on public records, threats and physical assaults on reporters, prosecution of whistleblowers and threats of prosecution against reporters.”

Many groups in the coalition of organizations have been working for several years to spark changes in the restrictions put on federal employees and the lack of freedom to speak to journalists. For more than a decade, AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee has pressed federal officials to improve journalists’ access to federal experts.

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CDC says it wants better working relationships with reporters, provides contact information

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided AHCJ with the email addresses and phone numbers of three key media officers, a move that a top official said she hoped would foster “a better working relationship”  with reporters.

Michelle E. Bonds, director of the Division of Public Affairs at the CDC, provided the contact information after AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee described members’ difficulties getting answers from the CDC. Continue reading

A reporter went public when denied an interview. Here’s what happened next …

By AlvesgasparOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, LinkReporter David Abel was denied access to talk to the Massachusetts state ornithologist about barn swallows.

David Abel had had enough.

The Boston Globe’s environmental writer was used to being denied interviews with state scientists and officials. But this latest refusal from the administration of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker was just too absurd.

Abel had been forbidden to speak with the state ornithologist. (Yes, this is Massachusetts, we have such an official.) His topic was not politically sensitive. Continue reading

Oops! That ‘Open Door Forum’ won’t be off the record after all

Reporters were taken aback on Monday when they received an invitation to a national phone call billed as an “Open Door Forum” – with instructions that remarks made on this public call would not be on the record.

After AHCJ inquired, a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services stated that the call would, in fact, be on the record and that the off-the-record requirement was included by mistake. Continue reading

HHS session on covering suicide described as new effort to engage reporters

Mark Weber

The Department of Health and Human Services is sponsoring a seminar for reporters on covering suicide on Tuesday, in what the lead organizer described as an effort by HHS media officials to engage with journalists in new ways.

Mark Weber, the deputy assistant secretary for public affairs, said that media officials often interact with reporters in what he called “ATM transactions” – communicating only when one needs something from the other. Continue reading