National Freedom of Information Coalition
Protecting Your Right to Open Government

Poll: Science Agencies ‘Stonewalling’ Reporters

The Obama administration, which has pledged both to embrace transparency and promote scientific integrity, continues to tightly control journalists’ access to federally employed scientists, a survey of reporters found.

Nearly 59 percent of respondents “feel that the public is not getting all the information it needs because of the barriers that agencies are imposing on journalists’ reporting practices,” according to the survey released April 9 by the Society of Professional Journalists and the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Almost three quarters (74.2 percent) of the reporters said that they are required to obtain public information officers’ approval before interviewing employees at least some of the time, and 52.2 percent said that when they ask to interview a specific subject matter expert, the PIO routes their request to a different agency employee at least some of the time. In comments, reporters added that this different employee was “more likely to give the answer the agency wanted the reporter to get,” Carolyn Carlson, a member of the Freedom of Information Committee at the journalists society, told reporters at the National Press Club. Continue>>>