Access Denied: A survey of media access to public officials

Join the Society of Professional Journalists and MuckRock in investigating when tough questions are dodged with access denials

Edited by JPat Brown

The Society of Professional Journalists and MuckRock believe a journalist’s access to direct information from government employees is important. Lack of access, delayed access, and even blocked access by a government public relations professional, communication personnel or public information officer, impedes a journalist ability to do their job: to accurately, fairly and ethically inform the public.

In recent years journalists have seen an increasing number of stall tactics being used and a lack of access to government employees and information. These include agencies forcing reporters to go through PIOs to speak to any employee, which often silences staff on critical matters, and then there are sometimes other obstructions after the PIO is contacted.

To find out how often it’s happening we are asking for your help. Every time you are not allowed to talk to a government employee because a media relations officer steps in, or you are scolded for going directly to an employee, document the details here. If we can track where this is happening, we can push for change and more transparency.

Thanks and if there are any questions or concerns contact SPJ’s President-Elect, Lynn Walsh: or @LWalsh on Twitter.

Image by Cherie Cullen via Wikimedia Commons and is licensed under CC BY 2.0