Journalism Groups Send Letter to President Obama Demanding ‘End to Restraint on Communication in Federal Agencies’

President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about the economy at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Va., Tuesday, July 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama pauses while speaking about the economy at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center in McLean, Va., Tuesday, July 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Thirty-eight journalism groups, including Associated Collegiate Press, College Media Association and Student Press Law Center, collectively sent a letter to President Obama last Tuesday that called for him and his administration to be as transparent as he claims and “seek an end to [the] restraint on communication in federal agencies.”

The letter cites “politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies” as the root of the issue, as well as a source of frustration around the country toward government.

It goes on to say that “public agencies have increasingly prohibited staff from communicating with journalists unless they go through public affairs offices or through political appointees.” These restrictions are seen by the 38 groups as a form of censorship, “an attempt to control what the public is allowed to see and hear,” according to the letter.

This has been an increasingly problematic situation for journalists, starting with the past two presidential administrations, the letter said.

“It’s nothing new for government agencies to try to focus the public on positive, upbeat stories and downplay their mistakes and shortcomings. That’s an understood part of public relations. But public-relations offices are going way past ‘spinning’ the news and are affirmatively getting in the way of access to the news,” says Frank LoMonte, executive director of the SPLC.

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SOURCE: Ben Sheffler 
USA Today

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