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MEDIA ADVISORY: SPJ, UCS to release survey, host panel discussion at National Press Club



Journalists Often Face Stonewalling at Science Agencies, New Survey Finds

SPJ, UCS to release survey, host panel discussion at National Press Club

David Cuillier, SPJ FOI Chair, 520-248-6242 (MST), spjdave@yahoo.com
Aaron Huertas, Union of Concerned Scientists, 202-331-5458, AHuertas@ucsusa.org
Carolyn S. Carlson, SPJ FOI Committee Member, 404-502-1638, ccarls10@kennesaw.edu
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Communications Strategist, 317-361-4134, jroyer@spj.org


WHO: The Society of Professional Journalists and the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Speakers include SPJ Freedom of Information Committee members Carolyn S. Carlson and Kathryn Foxhall, Michael Halpern, program manager of the Center for Science and Democracy, and Kate Sheppard, senior reporter and environment and energy editor at the Huffington Post.

WHAT: A new survey of science and environmental writers finds they struggle to obtain information from government agencies for their stories and often must go through a public information office to contact subject matter experts within agencies to secure interviews. At the same time, journalists say agencies are responsive during crises. The survey will be released and its findings discussed. A follow-on report including supplemental interviews with journalists and recommendations will be released in June.

WHEN: 9:30 to 11 a.m. Thursday, April 9.

WHERE: The National Press Club in Washington, D.C., 529 14th St. NW., in the Zenger Room. The survey will be posted online the morning of the event at spj.org.

WHY: The survey shows the difficulty of getting timely information because of excessive public information office controls. Government gatekeepers are increasingly sitting in on interviews, blocking access to sources or requiring questions be submitted in writing. SPJ and UCS believe federal agencies should improve media policies and practices because in the end, the public loses when journalists are unable to get substantive responses from government agencies. The hope is that the survey will prompt both the science and journalism communities to find ways to work with agencies to ensure better transparency and openness. Last month, UCS updated a scorecard of federal agency media policies, finding that they have improved, but are still often inadequate for ensuring transparency and affirming employees’ free speech rights.

About SPJ: Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit spj.org.

About CSD: The Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists fights misinformation, protects scientists from harassment and political interference in their work, defends our nation’s science-based public health and environmental laws, and ensures that people have equal access to the independent scientific information they need to make informed decisions about their health, safety, and environment.


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