Category Archives: Right to know

Can agencies stop employees from talking to media? Brechner Center says no 

Madeline Laguaite

About Madeline Laguaite

Madeline Laguaite (@MLaguaite) is pursuing her master’s degree in health and medical journalism at the University of Georgia. Her area of interest is stories about LGBTQ health and mental health.

Public employees have the right to speak to the press without going through the boss, but workplace gag orders continue to violate their freedom of speech, says a report from The Brechner Center for Freedom of Information, a nonprofit educational center.

The findings could have particular implications for health care journalists, the center’s director says.

Federal, state or local agencies often impose policies that restrict an employee’s ability to speak with reporters. In a report released in October that examines employees’ First Amendment rights, the center urges news organizations to challenge those rules. Continue reading

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

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.

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.

Continue reading 

Verma talks about work requirements, hospital transparency, ACA and more

Kimberly Leonard

About Kimberly Leonard

Kimberly Leonard (@leonardkl) is a member of AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee and co-chair of the Washington, D.C., chapter. She covers Congress, the White House, and the Department of Health and Human Services as a health care reporter for the Washington Examiner.

Seema Verma

Seema Verma, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, invited reporters to the agency’s Washington, D.C., headquarters on Thursday to take questions on the record, the latest open press meeting in a continued shift since AHCJ began calling for better access to the official.

About 25 reporters were present at the “pen and pad,” an informal type of press conference, which was open to all who were able to attend and permitted recording and laptops. Continue reading

CMS head Verma briefs reporters; audio available through AHCJ

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.

Seema Verma, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,  sat down with 25 reporters on Thursday in a “pen and pad” session.

Verma answered questions on topics ranging from Medicaid work requirements to Medicare for All and hospital transparency. Continue reading

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

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.

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

In FOIA decision, Supreme Court rules that food stamp data is confidential

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.

In a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Monday, justices ruled that data on the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, is confidential.

The ruling is the latest in a case brought eight years ago by the Argus Leader, a newspaper in South Dakota, asserting the public’s right to know how much taxpayer money goes to grocers and other retailers who participate in the program. Continue reading