National Press Club

Journalists Fight for the Public's Right to Know

August 11, 2014

Journalists Fight for the Public's Right to Know

The White House has 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 agencies 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 a "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 greater transparency.

This issue is discussed in the latest Update-1 podcast. Kathryn Foxhall, a member of the press club who along with the Society of Professional Journalists has taken the reins on this issue, organized a protest of these practices in a letter to the Obama Administration. She tells Broadcast Committee member Bill McCloskey about the energy behind this issue given Obama's pledge of an open and transparent administration.

Foxhall discusses the letter, the in-depth research and the frustration that led to it, along with its importance to the public's right to know.

Download the MP3