Twenty years after the attacks on 9/11, the war on terror has left many risks in the built environment under a cloak of secrecy. For WatchDog Opinion, keeping vital information about such preventable hazards under wraps from the public and journalists is not just wrong, but bad policy. Here’s why. Plus, a rundown for environment reporters of where exactly this secrecy reigns.
For years, public information about some of the deadliest chemical security risks has been limited. But now that the Biden EPA is exploring the issue, our latest WatchDog opinion column explains why this is such an important open information issue for environmental reporters and other journalists.
Leaks are a vital source of information for the news media, but shifting White House policy on pursuing the source of leaks has created confusion and worry among news practitioners. WatchDog Opinion calls for clearer signals from the Biden administration and renews support for a federal shield law to help journalists protect their sources.
A government website that tracked climate change is back after being frozen by the Trump administration. But the return of the EPA’s climate indicator page, argues the new WatchDog opinion column, is just one step in undoing a longer-term and more systematic assault on science that has hobbled truth-seeking journalists. WatchDog on what must come next.
“Science is back at EPA,” declared the agency’s new administrator. But for reporters to do their job means more, argues the latest WatchDog — it means ditching a long-standing policy that requires EPA scientists have permission, along with press office “minders,” for interviews. Why that holds back quality journalism and government responsibility to protect public health. Plus, how past agency appointees have overruled science.
The CDC, long a storied agency of serious import not just to health and science reporters, but also to environmental journalists, took a massive hit to its credibility during the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The latest WatchDog opinion makes the case it can do better, and offers 15 steps that may help restore the federal entity to its gold-standard days.
Government suppression of science harms not just journalists, but also the public in its ability to get crucial information and trust in science, not to mention government integrity. So now is the time, asserts the new WatchDog opinion column, for news media to engage intensely over government scientific integrity policies in the making, to be sure that agencies like the EPA get it right.
Testimony from the incoming EPA administrator, along with a little-noticed memo on scientific integrity to Biden’s agency heads, suggest promising changes in government openness. But WatchDog contends the proof is yet to come and offers some advice to the administration. Plus, a letter from SEJ listing some of the things Biden can do to improve relations with the news media.
The Espionage Act case against controversial figure Julian Assange is a wedge that could later be used to restrict press freedoms for journalists and so should be dropped by the incoming Biden administration, argues the new WatchDog opinion column. That, plus why the “murder the media” message signals the need for a law to make it a crime to assault journalists.
As a new Biden administration prepares for office, WatchDog issues a call for restoring open government. The latest opinion column puts forward a list of 20 recommended actions that include outlawing assault on journalists, clearing FOIA backlogs and counteracting ag-gag laws. Plus, an updated reporter’s Bill of Rights for government press offices.