March 11-17 is Sunshine Week — a time for journalists, public and government to focus on open government. SEJ is asking EPA's press office to ensure basic responses to journalists' information requests. This and more is available here.
The Society of Environmental Journalists has reached out to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s public affairs office in hopes of improving journalists’ access to EPA information. Things have not always gone smoothly for reporters during the first year of the Trump administration, and SEJ hopes to begin a conversation about journalists’ basic needs.
“Without access to information from agencies like the EPA, journalists cannot serve their constitutional role as informers of the public,” the SEJ letter said. “Journalists need access to EPA data, documents, and agency officials and scientists to let the public know about the many important environmental and public health issues facing our nation. Without transparency to the media, there can be no transparency to the public.”
SEJ asked for these key items:
- Respond to inquiries in a meaningful and timely manner, arranging interviews with subject matter experts.
- Distribute all press releases and advisories, to all who request them, not just to a select audience.
- Hold open press briefings on significant news. Invite all regular beat reporters to in-person briefings held at EPA headquarters; provide web conferencing and teleconference access for all interested reporters outside the Washington area.
- Reinstate the practice of publishing a weekly list of the EPA administrator’s scheduled public appearances.
- Resume the practice of publishing an up-to-date calendar of all the EPA administrator’s meetings — not just public events.
SEJ has not yet received a response to the letter or to a follow-up inquiry.
The full text of the SEJ letter is here.
Sunshine Week Is for Everyone, Everywhere: Details
Wherever you are, there are Sunshine Week activities you can take part in. Or you may have your own ideas for shining light in dark places.
Check out the calendar of Sunshine Week events to find a forum, presentation or reception near you. During the week, various news organizations will be rolling out various newsworthy projects. And turning over rocks.
A large number of organizations and news outlets have projects planned. Look at the list of participants to find projects near you or up your alley.
If you want to participate, Sunshine Week organizers offer a toolkit that includes free stories, opinion columns, editorial cartoons, public records data, logos and icons, and an assortment of freedom of information resources.
There is more on the Sunshine Week homepage, which is being updated often this week.
Sun Doesn't Shine for Environmental Reporters During Trump Administration
The SEJ WatchDog newsletter has catalogued many of the information-suppressing actions taken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Interior Department during the first year of the Trump administration.
There are a lot of troubling trends:
- Secrecy over travel and meetings at EPA and Interior
- An EPA press office that is often unresponsive, even hostile to media
- Institutional secrecy and silencing of agency employees
- Deletion of climate and science information from the web
Read the full story, with links, here.