FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | In late May, President Barack Obama took the podium in front of the White House press corps in his first full, open-ended news conference in 10 months, a gap that exceeds the record set by his predecessor.
Obama’s lack of presidential press conferences and his general lack of transparency and accessibility to journalists during his administration are in sharp contrast to the platform on which he ran for president in 2008. During that campaign, Obama pledged a new era of openness.
Even the most logical of venues for answering questions from the press seem to be off-limits. In mid-May after he signed the Daniel Pearl Freedom of Press Act-a new law requiring the State Department to identify governments that restrict press freedoms-he refused to answer questions from reporters. “I’m not doing a press conference today,” he announced, according to a Reuters news story. And when he does allow reporters’ questions, attempts are made to control the proceeding. Last year the Wall Street Journal criticized the administration’s pre-screening of reporters who would be allowed to ask questions of the president.
The AEJMC is alarmed by restrictions to presidential coverage that at best curtail and at worst prevent U.S. citizens from understanding the critical issues in which this administration is involved. We urge President Obama and members of his administration to fulfill the commitment “to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government” described in his memo posted on http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/transparencyandopengovernment/. Supporting a free, open and informed press with regular access to the president is the best way to support transparent governance in the best interest of a free and informed citizenry.
This statement was issued by the 2009-10 President of AEJMC, Carol Pardun, University of South Carolina, and through the President’s Advisory Council (Marie Hardin, Pennsylvania State University; Paul Lester, California State University-Fullerton; Julianne Newton, University of Oregon).
The AEJMC President’s Advisory Council allows the association’s president to weigh in on important issues that are central to the association’s mission. A three-member subcommittee of the Standing Committee of Professional Freedom and Responsibility helps inform and advise the president of important issues.
The Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication is a nonprofit, educational association of journalism and mass communication educators, students and media professionals. The Association’s mission is to advance education, foster scholarly research, cultivate better professional practice and promote the free flow of communication.