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.
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.
The National Press Club
National Press Club Journalism Institute
Society of Professional Journalists
Mizell Stewart III
American Society of News Editors
Radio Television Digital News Association and Foundation
Reporters Without Borders/RSF
Committee to Protect Journalists
Sandy K. Johnson
National Press Foundation
National Association of Black Journalists
President, Board of Directors
National Association of Hispanic Journalists
Native American Journalists Association
Asian American Journalists Association
National Association of LGBTQ Journalists
Elisa Lees Munoz
The International Women’s Media Foundation
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.