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SABEW Observes World Press Freedom Day

As we observe World Press Freedom Day on May 3, SABEW, the association for business journalists, warns that the financial press is facing a split-screen moment.

Governments are falling short on public records requests, with little consequence for failing to meet the mark. At the same time, the Federal Reserve and financial regulators are relying heavily on public statements and press conferences to shape policymaking.

For the latest look at Freedom of Information Act abuses, the Brechner Freedom of Information Project at the University of Florida concluded that journalists have about a 12% chance of getting public records via requests to federal agencies.

“A decade ago, if you requested a public record from a federal agency, you might get it about half the time,” the project reported in a recent statement. The report cites other barriers to public records, including a report by the project’s David Cullier and Marquette University’s A. Jay Wagner that cited high fees to discourage requests.

Meanwhile the Federal Reserve, which released its latest decision on interest rates and held a press conference on May 1, is increasingly dependent on the financial press to convey nuance in its announcements. The decision day press conferences – including Q&A sessions with reporters – are at the center of the Fed’s efforts to increase transparency.

“This bipolar regime of maximum secrecy on FOIA and maximum give-and-take of Fed decision day is becoming a new norm for 21st Century reporting,” said Henry Dubroff, Chair of the SABEW First Amendment Committee.

SABEW and its First Amendment Committee continue taking a stand for journalists who risk their lives to bring truth to light. At last month’s #SABEW24 conference in Chicago, attendees watched a video honoring Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter illegally detained by Russian authorities for over a year. Attendees also donned “#IStandWithEvan” buttons provided by the WSJ.

SABEW is monitoring an evolving situation where police arrested a FOX 7 Austin photographer covering an Israel-Hamas conflict protest.

“These incidents underscore the ongoing dangers faced by journalists worldwide,” said Dubroff.

To kick off its 60th Anniversary celebration, SABEW has received a three-year $100,000 matching gift from the Walter and Karla Goldschmidt Foundation. This generous gift will provide opportunities for SABEW to expand its reach, equipping more journalists with the tools needed to navigate today’s changing data landscape. By joining this matching opportunity you can play a vital role in upholding press freedom.

 

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