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Washington journalists say federal agencies limiting free flow of information, according to new survey

A new survey from the Society for Professional Journalists (SPJ), released Monday, March 12, in accordance with Sunshine Week, shows that reporters covering the U.S. federal agencies face so many roadblocks in trying to access information and interview officials that "most reporters considered the control to be a form of censorship and an impediment to providing information to the public," according to the report.

The survey of 146 Washington-based reporters also found that press staff working in the government agencies forced reporters to abide by "alarming" rules, such as pre-approval for interviews or monitoring of interviews, reported the site Government Executive.

According to the survey, 70 percent of respondents said they considered "government agency controls over who I interview a form of censorship.” Also, only 37 percent said agencies “quickly respond” to their requests most or all of the time. Still, as Poynter noted, 70 percent said they had a good relationship with their agency contacts.

In a statement, SPJ President John Ensslin called the report's findings a "dismaying trend. Government works best when there’s a free flow of information at all levels. The strategy of spokespeople acting as the spigots of that information inevitably backfires by fostering leaks and intrigue instead of the sunshine of full disclosure.”


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