National Press Club

Sunshine Week 2018: How Public Information Officers Limit Media Access

March 27, 2018

About This Video

Run time: 93 minutes

In honor of Sunshine Week, the National Press Club's Press Freedom Committee hosted an evening panel discussion on March 14, 2018 to examine how the Trump administration uses public information officers to limit and shape reporters' access to government information.

More than a year into the Donald Trump administration, PIOs are still heavily relied on to act as buffers between reporters and the career officials and political appointees they cover. But some things have changed. At key agencies like the State and Defense departments, the number of press conferences has sharply declined as have opportunities to travel and talk with agency heads. On other occasions, journalists have reported the information-gathering process has become politicized by PIOs to a degree not previously felt before.

A panel of journalists and experts examined limits on access to public information under the Trump administration, how they vary agency-to-agency and compare to previous administrations.

- Henry Kerner, special counsel in the Office of Special Counsel

- Julie Pace, Associated Press Washington Bureau chief

- Kimberly Leonard, Washington Examiner healthcare reporter/co-chair of DC chapter of Association of Health Care Journalists

- Kathryn Foxhall - freelance healthcare journalist/Society of Professional Journalists Freedom of Information Committee member

- Tom Devine - Government Accountability Project legal director

- Rachel Oswald, Congressional Quarterly reporter/vice chair of NPC Freedom of the Press Committee, moderated.