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Journalists ask Anderson Cooper, Martha Raddatz to include question about open government in presidential debate


Andrew Seaman, SPJ Ethics Committee Chair, 570-483-8555,
Jennifer Royer, SPJ Communications Strategist, 317-361-4134,

NEW ORLEANS – The Society of Professional Journalists, American Society of News Editors and are leading a campaign asking presidential debate moderators Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz to include a question about open government in an upcoming presidential debate.

“They are in unique positions to ask each candidate about their stance and plan for an open government,” said Andrew Seaman, SPJ Ethics Committee chair. “SPJ believes public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. Ethical journalists serve as watchdogs over public affairs and government. They also seek to ensure that the public’s business in conducted in the open, and that public records are open to all.”

Journalists Cooper and Raddatz will moderate an upcoming presidential debate at Washington University in St. Louis on Oct. 9.

“We hope Cooper and Raddatz will use this opportunity to obtain solid answers from each candidate about how their administration will relay information to the American people,” Seaman said.

As the debate’s moderators, Cooper and Raddatz are charged by the Commission on Presidential Debates to ask about topics of broad public interest “as reflected in social media and other sources.”

Twenty-six organizations that represent many working U.S. journalists ask Cooper and Raddatz to fulfill their roles as watchdogs by challenging each candidate to answer the following question:

What steps do you believe are necessary and what policies would you implement to guarantee and advance public access to government information and sources?

The groups are asking the public to also persuade Cooper and Raddatz to ask this question by Tweeting at them by clicking on the buttons on the OpenOurGov web page and using the hashtag #OpenOurGov.

“It's important that the belief and want for government transparency comes from the top down. While the person serving as President does not control everything, they can set an agenda, tone and culture that encourages disclosure and the public needs that more than ever now,” said Lynn Walsh, SPJ president-elect.

The campaign was announced today by Walsh and Seaman during the Excellence in Journalism 2016 conference in New Orleans.

The question was crafted with help from the American Society of News Editors and’s comprehensive questionnaire for federal candidates on open government issues.

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SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund, or give to the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation.

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