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.
This annual celebration of access to public information offers seven days packed with panel discussions, workshops and special reporting efforts, organized by the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee, which also advocates for transparency and access to information, is joining this year’s celebration with a weeklong series of blog posts to bolster your efforts to get the facts. Continue reading →
The Food and Drug Administration has banned a communications practice that troubled journalists and sparked protests from AHCJ and others.
The agency has forbidden its media staff from using “close-hold embargoes,” in which reporters receive early access to information provided they promise not to seek comments from others until the embargo lifts, according to a letter sent Thursday to Karl Stark, president of the Association of Health Care Journalists. Continue reading →
Jaclyn Cosgrove is the health reporter at The Oklahoman. She is attending Health Journalism 2017 on an AHCJ Rural Health Journalism fellowship, which is supported by The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.
Jaclyn has spent the past four years focusing much of her reporting on mental illness and addiction. She was a 2015-16 Rosalynn Carter Mental Health fellow. Through the fellowship, Jaclyn completed a yearlong project, "Epidemic Ignored," focused on Oklahoma's fractured, underfunded mental health system. Beyond mental health reporting, Jaclyn has also written about health disparities, rural health and public policy.
Jaclyn lives in Oklahoma City with her wife, Tiffany.
A year ago, AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee brokered an appeals process with the leadership of the Department of Health and Human Services media office for reporters facing unreasonable delays or inadequate responses from agency public information officers.
I’m happy to report that we’ve had a number of successes since then in clearing information logjams for individual reporters and policing violations of HHS’s media policy. But a year’s experience with this process has also made us wiser about what we need from AHCJ members to be effective. Continue reading →