Health Journos Protest FDA Interview Rules

The Association of Health Care Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists and 9 other scribbler groups have asked the Food and Drug Administration to lift its requirement that agency officials first get permission from the public relations office before speaking with reporters. The demand came in a letter sent to Principal Deputy Commissioner Joshua Sharfstein, who is running the FDA's Transparency Task Force.

Good idea. In fact, it should be extended to every government agency.

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  2. I am involved with many journalists in China who cover the health care beat, and they are loving this story. It makes up for all the negative coverage of China’s government restrictions during Obama’s trip, which was vastly overplayed. Censorship is not limited by geography.

  3. Above comment noted, but the real reason that walls are placed between the press and agency officials is to control the message. I’m quite confident that government officials have enough skill and knowledge to answer reporters’ questions, although they may not be politically adept. I guess we’ll need to continue to rely upon leaks. http://www.MDWhistleblower.blogspot.com

  4. Actually, I do not think this is as simple an issue as it might seem. First, many government employees are not experienced in dealing with the media and, in an age when every comment is parsed with a microscope, an unexpected question with a poorly thought out answer could lead to unnecessary confusion. Second, there are always disgruntled employees in any organization. The media soon learn that these employees produce the most sensationalist “news” and therefore gravitate to them, exaggerating their relative importance and leading to a vicious circle.
    I realize that this idea is prompted by the Bush administration’s politicization of the FDA and suppression of any dissident views (this is not opinion, but fact, as provided to me by acquaintances who are employees). However, since I once worked in a hospital which was both fairly and unfairly pilloried in the media during a quality of care “scandal”, I have become much more wary of media figures who, poorly educated on the subject matter, provide factually bereft articles.
    In sum, there are 2 sides to this story. Better access, yes, but completely unfettered access – unwise and unhelpful to the public.