Thursday, June 17, 2010

Feds, BP doing better at controlling flow of information than flow of oil in Gulf, AP exec says

Local law enforcement and BP officals are continuing to bar from public property journalists attempting to report on the oil blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, despite repeated calls from the journalism community to allow full access. "Adm. Thad Allen, the federal government's point person for the response, issued a May 31 directive to BP PLC and federal officials ensuring media access to key sites along the coast," Tamara Lush of The Associated Press reports.

While BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles followed up with a letter to news organizations, saying the company "fully supports and defends all individuals' rights to share their personal thoughts and experiences with journalists if they so choose," those well wishes have "done little to curtail the obstacles, harassment and intimidation tactics journalists are facing by federal officials and local police, as well as BP employees and contractors," Lush writes.

"We think a lot of the restrictions are way tighter than they need to be," said Michael Oreskes, AP senior managing editor. "So far, I think the government has done a better job of controlling the flow of information than of controlling the flow of oil in the Gulf." Oreskes sent a letter, demanding better media access and outlining incidents where media weren't allowed to report on the story, to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Wednesday. (Read more)

The Society of Environmental Journalists devoted its June 16 tipsheet to the controversy with many stories about media being denied access and steps being taken to increase transparency surrounding the blowout. Here is a Columbia Journalism Review story by Curtis Brainard.

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