A spokesman for President Biden’s administration has pledged that any legitimate reporter who signs up with the White House press office will be invited to briefings and provided with embargoed background materials.
The promise came after AHCJ’s Right to Know Committee protested the practice of holding small group briefings with select reporters.
The press official denied that there had been any attempt to exclude people and objected to characterizing the press briefings as “closed.” Instead, he said, the White House press staff is working on updating its mailing lists. Continue reading →
Felice J. Freyer is AHCJ's president and a health care reporter for The Boston Globe.
Chart: AHCJ Right to Know Committee Source: “Covering Covid” Survey | Fall 2020See more graphics of survey results below.
Reporters covering the COVID-19 pandemic have often been unable to speak directly with public health experts, hindering access to complete and accurate information, according to results of AHCJ’s “Covering Covid” survey.
Nearly half of respondents reported that “always,” “most of the time” or “about half the time” they had been blocked from speaking with public health experts. More than half said that press briefings in their area have been led by politicians rather than health experts, and those briefings often failed to answer critical questions. Continue reading →
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 →
Sabriya Rice (@sabriyarice) is the business of health care reporter for the Dallas Morning News. She’s an AHCJ board member and vice chair of the association’s Right to Know committee.