RTDNA, Others Seek Transparency Commitments From Trump Administration

The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) has joined with five dozen other journalism associations and outlets to ask President-elect Donald Trump to make commitments to transparency and not punishing reporters, commitments they say were not forthcoming from the Obama Administration.

Many of the same groups met with Josh Earnest, President Barack Obama's press secretary more than a year ago, they told the President-elect and Vice President-elect Mike Pence in a letter dated Jan. 18 but said little had been done by that administration about issues including blocking reporters' requests to talk to staffers, delays (beyond deadlines) in answering interview requests, and even "blackballing reporters who write critically about them."

Trump has already cut off access to reporters and outlets whose stories he did not like, so he could be a tough audience. 

But the outlets were looking for commitments from the new administration to do better than his predecessor in that and other regards.

The groups said their priorities for re-opening the discussion about transparency and access are:

"The ability of reporters to directly interact with government employees who are subject matter experts, rather than interacting with Public Information Officers (or having all conversations monitored by PIOs); access to the activities of the President; and ensuring that the Federal Freedom of Information Act remains as strong as possible."

They also had an ask of the new administration: "We urge you to publicly affirm your commitment to transparency, to issue an executive order prohibiting the restrictive public information policies that have been the status quo, and to engage in a public discussion with us about the Trump Administration’s commitment to the free flow of information from the White House and all federal government, to the American people."

They said they would be happy to send a delegation to D.C. or have a sit-down with Pence when he returns to Indiana, which is also home to the Society of Professional Journalists, or absent that a conference call. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.