November 26, 2014

How politicians silence the press

From Jim Romensko: A letter from the head of the NY Press Club to Mayor de Blasio:

Dear Mr. Mayor:

Eight months have passed since you took office as New York City’s 109th mayor.

This organization, which since 1948 has represented this city’s journalists, is deeply disturbed by a pattern that has emerged in the way you deal with reporters seeking information in the interest of the people of New York.

You list a daily schedule for yourself in which some events are designated as “open press” and others are described as “closed press.” You list still other events with a condition, “no q. and a.” Another condition that you set sometimes is taking questions only on a particular topic. When reporters try to get answers on other matters deemed vital to their readers, viewers or listeners, you admonish them: “On topic!” and refuse to take questions on a subject not set by you. That anti-press gimmick was invented by Michael Bloomberg.

You have departed from a precedent set by at least eight mayors before you, which has been to take questions in open press conferences without restriction as to the subject matter.

You have promised to run a “transparent” administration. But the conditions you set on virtually a daily basis are not transparent but opaque. What gives you the right to set the agenda for what journalists can ask you about? Is that in keeping with the fundamental right of freedom of the press?

We think not – and we urge you to change your policy and open City Hall to free discussion of issues – at least by taking questions on all matters that reporters believe concern your constituents and theirs.

It’s time for a change, time to let in the sunlight. It is sad that a man who deems himself a progressive, is retrogressive – when freedom of the press is at stake.


Larry Seary, President, The New York Press Club

No comments: