NASW opposes the CDC's decision to bar Voice of America media requests

The National Association of Science Writers strongly opposes the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's decision to categorically bar Voice of America journalists from speaking with CDC experts, as documented on the Knight First Amendment Institute website. We also note with concern the CDC's March 16 policy requiring vetting of all Covid-19-related interview requests by public affairs staff, which breaks from the agency's official policy of encouraging experts to speak to the press.

As articulated in the information access standards we published in 2019, NASW calls on all government agencies to provide the media direct, unrestricted access to subject matter experts, a principle especially important during this period of intense interest in scientifically valid, potentially life-saving information about the novel coronavirus. Selective granting of interviews and excluding legitimate media organizations harm public welfare and are unacceptable practices under any circumstances. Reiterating our statement of March 2, 2020, the flow of accurate scientific information should never be politicized.

We invite reporters to share their experiences seeking information or interview with experts at CDC and other scientific agencies using our information access database.

Jun. 21, 2020

Leon Levy Center for Biography fellows

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