The Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW) celebrates World Press Freedom Day by turning its attention to the nation’s capital, where the COVID-19 pandemic and economic policymaking are producing troubling trends when it comes to informing the public and the press.
On April 28, the Washington, D.C. Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists called on the Centers for Disease Control and Director Dr. Rochell Walensky to “grant greater access within the agency to its reporters.” Although the DC-SPJ chapter noted that it was “encouraged” by Walensky’s response, it has called for further dialogue.
SABEW has previously raised the need for transparency in the release of COVID-19 data at all levels of government. We applaud the DC-SPJ for raising the issue of access to staff and data on pandemic response. With lives on the line and vaccine hesitancy on the rise, open communication between the CDC and the press is essential.
Just ten days earlier, on April 18, the Washington Post reported on efforts to remove Congressional Budget Office Director Phillip Swagel amid reports that some Senate Democratic staff were unhappy with the CBO’s calculations of the economic impact of a $15 per hour minimum wage. SABEW agrees with the Post that removing one of Washington’s most apolitical institutions over an analysis that doesn’t give the desired result is “a terrible idea.”
The COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented economic response should provide opportunities for more transparency when it comes to press access and policymaking. SABEW will continue to inform its members and the public about developments in these areas. Links to recent articles and the World Press Freedom Index are below.
SPJ Chapter calls for ongoing dialogue with CDC
Opinion: Senate Democrats need to leave Congress’s scorekeepers alone
World Press Freedom Index