WatchDog TipSheet

Lisa Jackson Emails: Transparency Crisis or Political Nothingburger?

A hearing September 10, 2013, before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform featured former EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson and other Obama administration officials in a theatrical stare-down with House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA, pictured) that garnered buckets of news media coverage.

Calif. Highway Patrol Sort of Backs Down — Questions Remain

SEJ complained in an August 7 letter to CHP that the arrest of Willits News photog Steven Eberhard for attempting to document a protest was a violation of constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press. CHP responded August 28, noting that its policies for news media access to the Willits highway bypass construction site had changed. However, several assertions in the letter are not true, according to Eberhard and a video of the incident. © Photo by Steve Eberhard: CHP arrests demonstrators Sept. 10, 2013, at the Willits, Calif., bypass construction site.

PEER Sues NRC for Docs on Dam-Failure Inundation of Nuke Plants

See the list of US nuclear facilities that could be endangered by dam failure, thanks to a document that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not want to release, made public by the Huffington Post. Watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsiblity filed suit August 15, 2013, under the FOIA to force the NRC to disclose more of what it knows.

Drillers Buy Silence on Health, Property Impacts of Fracking

One reason proof of harm is hard to find is that drillers pay people to keep quiet. Now the unsealing of a once-confidential settlement in Pennsylvania gives a clear view of how the silencing works. The 17-page, two-year-old settlement agreement includes a $750,000 payment to a family critical of fracking, saying they became sick, as well as a gag order that applies to their 7- and 10-year-old children for the rest of their lives.

12 Tips for Getting Around the Press Office

If you expect nothing from the press office, you will rarely be disappointed. Even getting a callback before your deadline is a major feat. Good stories rarely come from a call to the press office, but there are times when you have to call them. Even public affairs professionals admit that good reporters do their best to circumvent the public affairs people. Try these tips!

Are PAOs a Help or Hindrance? Press Club Debates

Journalists of all stripes heard a panel debate: "Government Public Affairs Offices: More Hindrance Than Help?" August 12, 2013, at the National Press Club, with unsurprising results. The real news may have been presentation of results of a survey conducted by an assistant professor at Kennesaw State University. To risk summarizing in a headline: things are as bad as SEJ members have complained they are.

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