US journalism advocates to meet at White House

Members of journalism advocacy groups in the United States are to meet with senior officials with President Barack Obama’s administration next month to discuss the relationship with the country’s media.

Officials with the Society of Professional Journalists and the Society of Environmental Journalists are to meet with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on 15 December to discuss the issue, including access to information and transparency within the administration.

The SPJ and other advocacy groups had raised the issue in separate letters to Obama, the most recent being this past August.

In a statement, the SPJ and SEJ said this was part of long term goals to increase access to information from the US government.

“We view the meeting as one more step in a long battle,” the statement read. “Policy change and a more open government are what we hope to achieve by sharing our concerns with Mr Earnest and others in the White House.”



Improving transparency

Jennifer Royer, a spokeswoman for the SPJ, in a telephone interview, said it is hoped the meeting can improve the issue of transparency and open government, something Obama has spoken of since his inauguration in 2009.

Obama had been criticised by some in the US media community regarding his relationship with the media as well as transparency within government.

“Having this meeting, we can talk to the Administration and hope for an agreement and make some solid decisions to improve transparency,” Royer said.

There could also be implications for the international community, including the journalists that cover the United States for foreign media outlets, whether Obama decides to issue an executive order or directive to agencies regarding information and transparency. A White House spokesperson did not respond to a request seeking comment on the meeting.

Royer says there could also be benefits for the image of the US abroad.

“SPJ hopes that the US can set the course for other countries,” Royer said. “Many view the US with freedom principles and freedom of the press. It’s hard to tell other countries that these things are important if we’re not showing it to other countries.”

Ultimately, Royer says, the meeting is for the benefit of the American people, and the results of the meeting may lead to further engagement with the public.

“[There are] a lot of issues of the American people want to know about,” Royer said.

SPJ and SEJ officials said specific goals were still in development.