National Press Club

NPC Update-1 podcast looks at government censorship in the 21st Century

August 12, 2014 | By Bill McCloskey |

The White House Aug. 10 responded to a July 8 letter from journalism organizations and open-government groups urging President Barack Obama to honor his pledge for openness by relaxing the control federal agency public information officers have over reporter access to federal-government newsmakers.

Society of Professional Journalists President David Cuiller called the response from White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, "typical spin and response through no response."

The White House letter outlined extensive steps the Obama administration has taken to make documents available to the public, but skirted the issue of making newsmaking principals available to reporters without oversight from a media-relations person.

Earnest said in his letter that he didn't expect the organizations to be satisfied with the administration's record. He pledged his commitment to making sure that the "natural tension between journalists and the White House ... doesn't prevent a robust and honest discussion of the issues in a way that leads to even greater transparency in the future."

Journalists are not happy about federal, state and local governments requiring reporters to submit to delaying and other chilling tactics when they attempt to interview principals involved in news stories. They call it 21st-Century censorship. The issue is discussed in the latest Update-1 podcast from the National Press Club.

Kathryn Foxhall, a Press Club member who along with the Society of Professional Journalists has taken the reins on this issue and organized a group of journalism organizations to protest these practices in a letter to the Obama Administration, speaks of the energy behind this issue given Obama's pledge of an open and transparent administration.

Foxhall discusses the letter sent by the journalism organizations, the in-depth research and frustration that led to it and its importance to the public's right to know in an Update-1 interview with Bill McCloskey, a Broadcast Committee member and SPJ national board member.

Update-1 is a production of the Broadcast Committee. It provides a forum for listeners to learn about newsworthy stories, many originating from the Club or involving Club members. The show can be heard by clicking here.

All podcasts can be found on the NPC website, either on the home page or by clicking on Multimedia and then Podcast. The podcasts also are on iTunes.

For information on upcoming podcasts go to the Club’s Facebook page. You also can get podcast information by following the Club on Twitter at @pressclubDC.