Agencies hinder journalists' access to federal execs, survey shows

Federal agencies routinely hinder journalists from interviewing agency employees, according to a new survey from the Society of Professional Journalists.

Three-quarters of the 146 working journalists who responded to the survey said that agencies routinely require them to obtain approvals from public affairs officers before interviewing federal agency employees.

Thirty-one percent of the journalists said they must obtain such approvals for every single interview, while 45 percent said it was required “most of the time.”

Two-thirds of the journalists said the agencies outright prohibit the reporters from interviewing employees at least some of the time. Eighteen percent said that happens most of the time.

Eighty-four percent of the journalists said their interviews with agency employees have been monitored in person or over the phone by public information officers.

The journalists in the survey—of whom 95 percent are full-time journalists--overwhelmingly agreed with the statement that “the public was not getting all the information it needs because of barriers agencies are imposing on journalists’ reporting practices,” the society said in a report on the survey results released on March 12.

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Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Thu, Mar 15, 2012 Amused

Maybe since the press has stopped being such a lapdog entity, resentment in D.C. is governing...or maybe it is too many embarrassing skeletons in the closet that may be discovered.

Thu, Mar 15, 2012 Paul

I say just cut them out completely. There is a reason why we use PAO and even with that protection, it never goes well. Journalists are no different than politicians. They always have their own agenda and generally do not have sufficient knowledge to understand what they are reporting. I've been a party to a number of "conspiracies" as reported by journalists and find it almost laughable if not for the fact that the public becomes misinformed in the process. I’m all for government openness but our main problem is a continuing misunderstanding of the public about what we do because of both reporters and politicians. Until they go back to reporting facts and leave the opinions for the op ed page, they should and will continue to be left out in the cold.

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