The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) and some 60 other journalism organizations have requested a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence to discuss access to government.
The coalition on Wednesday (1/18) sent a letter to the incoming President and VP seeking a formal meeting or conference call to discuss what it views as “the ability of reporters to directly interact with government employees who are subject matter experts, rather than interacting with Public Information Officers (or having all conversations monitored by Public Information Officers); access to the activities of the president; and ensuring that the U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) remains as strong as possible.”
In a statement, RTDNA Executive Director Mike Cavender said, “This is an unprecedented time for the American media and, as a consequence, for the American public. It is imperative that the incoming administration understand the importance of transparency in government and the cooperative spirit needed in working with the journalists who cover it. Only then will Americans be fully and fairly informed about the important decisions being made on their behalf.”
The letter is the latest among several that were sent to the Obama administration since at least 2013 regarding concerns about White House restrictions on photographers, transparency and public information officer restrictions.
The first letter, sent Nov. 21, 2013, addressed concerns regarding White House restrictions on photographers. The next letter, sent July 8, 2014, and a follow-up letter sent Aug. 5, 2014, regarding PIO and transparency issues, were met with a response from the White House on Aug. 11, 2014, that the groups found unsatisfactory.
In the letter to the incoming top two leaders, the coalition urges Trump and Pence “to publicly affirm your commitment to transparency, to issue an executive order prohibiting the restrictive public information policies that have been the status quo, and to engage in a public discussion with us about the Trump administration’s commitment to the free flow of information from the White House and all federal government, to the American people.”
Founded as a grassroots organization in 1946, RTDNA works to protect the rights of electronic journalists in the courts and legislatures throughout the country, promotes ethical standards in the industry, provides members with training and education.