WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — The Society of Professional Journalists released a study whose findings show reporters feeling impediments in coverage of federal government due to censorship by public affairs officers.

“According to a survey of 146 reporters who cover federal agencies, conducted by the Society of Professional Journalists in February 2012, journalists indicated that public information officers often require pre-approval for interviews, prohibit interviews of agency employees, and often monitor interviews,” the summary reads.

Journalists also told the SPJ that they agreed with the assertion that “the public was not getting all the information it needs because of barriers agencies are imposing on journalists’ reporting practices.”

Those asked talked about issues with pre-approval for interviewing agency employees, prohibition from interviews and monitoring, among other issues.

“[Agency officials] sit right next to the person I am interviewing and often times jump in to make a comment or interfere with the conversation,” one unidentified respondent is quoted as saying.

Opinions and perspectives for the final draft of “Mediated Access: Journalists’ Perceptions of Federal Public Information Officer Media Control” was collected between Jan. 23 and Feb. 24.

Dr. Carolyn S. Carlson, an assistant professor of communication at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Ga., and Dr. David Cuillier, director of the School of Journalism at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz., conducted the survey on behalf of the Society of Professional Journalists Freedom of Information Committee

The release of the study and its conclusions came just before Sunshine Week, a national information initiative dedicated to fostering increased access to information from an open government.


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