“Science is back at EPA,” declared the agency’s new administrator. But for reporters to do their job means more, argues the latest WatchDog — it means ditching a long-standing policy that requires EPA scientists have permission, along with press office “minders,” for interviews. Why that holds back quality journalism and government responsibility to protect public health. Plus, how past agency appointees have overruled science.
The CDC, long a storied agency of serious import not just to health and science reporters, but also to environmental journalists, took a massive hit to its credibility during the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest WatchDog opinion makes the case it can do better, and offers 15 steps that may help restore the federal entity to its gold-standard days.
Government suppression of science harms not just journalists, but also the public in its ability to get crucial information and trust in science, not to mention government integrity. So now is the time, asserts the new WatchDog opinion column, for news media to engage intensely over government scientific integrity policies in the making, to be sure that agencies like the EPA get it right.
Testimony from the incoming EPA administrator, along with a little-noticed memo on scientific integrity to Biden’s agency heads, suggest promising changes in government openness. But WatchDog contends the proof is yet to come and offers some advice to the administration. Plus, a letter from SEJ listing some of the things Biden can do to improve relations with the news media.
The Espionage Act case against controversial figure Julian Assange is a wedge that could later be used to restrict press freedoms for journalists and so should be dropped by the incoming Biden administration, argues the new WatchDog opinion column. That, plus why the “murder the media” message signals the need for a law to make it a crime to assault journalists.
As a new Biden administration prepares for office, WatchDog issues a call for restoring open government. The latest opinion column puts forward a list of 20 recommended actions that include outlawing assault on journalists, clearing FOIA backlogs and counteracting ag-gag laws. Plus, an updated reporter’s Bill of Rights for government press offices.
A forthcoming U.S. National Climate Assessment, due in 2022, faces delays, thanks to Trump administration foot-dragging, according to the new WatchDog Opinion column. And the Supreme Court, possibly with a new Justice Amy Coney Barrett aboard, is about to hear arguments on a freedom of information case involving the Endangered Species Act.
More revelations of Trump administration duplicity on the science front, per the new WatchDog opinion column, which reports on a scoop about political appointees trying to warp weekly public health data to ensure they don’t undercut Trump’s political messaging. Oh, and Bob Woodward’s new book affirming the president knew of COVID-19’s dangers early on, but deliberately played them down.
Efforts to bury pandemic data is a story environmental journalists best keep an eye on, argues the new WatchDog opinion column. That’s partly because of the connection between the novel coronavirus and climate change, air pollution and environmental justice. But also because it echoes a deepening rejection of science that’s long been part of the environment beat.
When the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued a press release with favorable industry response to changes in a rule protecting migratory birds — before actually proposing the new rule — a group of former agency officials cried foul. Plus, why encrypted police scanners are a problem and an ag-gag ruling, all in the latest WatchDog opinion column.