From the Desk of Dr. Buckman: Journalism organizations’ letter to Trump

Colleagues:

For those who may not have seen this yet, 15 journalism organizations, including SPJ, sent this joint letter to Trump calling on him to respect freedom of the press, to guarantee access, to hold regular press conferences, etc.

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Dr. Buckman weighs in on news that affects the industry.

I find it embarrassing that 15 journalism organizations sent a letter with a dangling modifier in the first sentence of the second paragraph. But I’m more concerned about the chip-on-our-shoulder tone, which I fear will reinforce his already hostile attitude toward us. I think we should have used a little psychology and said he has an opportunity to reverse the notorious lack of transparency of his predecessor’s administration, the least transparent in recent memory, which these same organizations complained about in a letter to Obama. Oh, well. Let’s see what happens. RTB

Dear President-elect Trump,

We, a group of diverse journalism associations representing thousands of journalists from the nation’s capital to every corner of the country, begin this letter on a hopeful note. Your administration is a blank slate and we are eager to work with you to perpetuate one of this nation’s great strengths: our freedom of the press.

As the new leader of the free world, we expect that you will preserve longstanding traditions that ensure coverage of the Trump presidency. The idea of a press pool that covers all of the president’s movements is one that dates back to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration. Every president of both parties has treated this important tradition with respect. The role of the press pool is critically important to our country, whose citizens depend on and deserve to know what the president is doing. This isn’t about access for the press itself, it’s about access for Americans in diverse communities across the country. Your constituents receive information from a variety of platforms to learn about what our president is doing.

Being president is an enormous responsibility and working with the White House Correspondents’ Association to ensure journalists’ access is one small but important part of that. We call on you to commit to a protective press pool from now until the final day of your presidency. We respectfully ask you to instill a spirit of openness and transparency in your administration in many ways but first and foremost via the press pool.

We also call for access to you via regular press conferences and pool sprays and to your key decision-makers. You have an opportunity as incoming president to set the tone for your staff speaking on the record for the sake of transparency. We also hope your administration will improve response rates to FOIA requests as a way to show the American people, and the world, that the republic belongs to the people.

A great America depends on having sunlight on its leaders. We expect the traditions of White House press coverage to be upheld whether in Washington or elsewhere. Again we, a joint group of diverse journalism associations, speak as one as we respectfully ask that you take these steps to ensure access to our members covering your administration.

Thomas Burr
President
The National Press Club

Barbara Cochran
President
National Press Club Journalism Institute

Lynn Walsh
President
Society of Professional Journalists

Mizell Stewart III
President
American Society of News Editors

Mike Cavender

Executive Director
Radio Television Digital News Association and Foundation

Delphine Halgand
US Director
Reporters Without Borders/RSF

Courtney Radsch

Advocacy Director
Committee to Protect Journalists

Sandy K. Johnson
President
National Press Foundation

Sarah Glover
President
National Association of Black Journalists

Brandon Benavides
President, Board of Directors
National Association of Hispanic Journalists

Bryan Pollard
President
Native American Journalists Association

Paul Cheung
President

Asian American Journalists Association

Jen Christensen
President
National Association of LGBTQ Journalists

Elisa Lees Munoz
Executive Director
The International Women’s Media Foundation

Allison Sherry
President
Regional Reporters Association

Robert Buckman, Ph.D. is an associate professor of journalism at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and an SPJ Louisiana board member.

 

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