Oh, The Flacks, The Obstacles They Throw Up….

A major shout-out to my co-blogger and co-author, Dave Cuillier, for this fantastic study…and thanks to the good folks at the Society of Environmental Journalists for the tip!

We’ve all felt that the obstacles that government PIO “minders” throw up have been growing in number and intensity, and now a study by SPJ proves it…it is a fascinating look at the barriers reporters face in the form of government controls.

SPJ commissioned work by survey research professionals canvassing 776 newsgatherers (of whom 146 completed the survey) during January-February 2012. Here are some of the findings:

— “Pre-approval: Three-quarters reported that they have to get approval from public affairs officers before interviewing an agency employee (a third said that occurs all of the time and 45 percent some of the time).”

— “Prohibition: About half the reporters said agencies outright prohibit reporters from interviewing agency employees altogether at least some of the time, and 18 percent said it happens most of the time.”

— “Routing: Seven out of 10 reporters say their requests for interviews are forwarded to public affairs officers for selective routing to whomever they want.”

— “Monitoring: About 16 percent of the reporters said their interviews are monitored in person or over the telephone all the time, a third said it happens most of the time and another third said it happens some of the time.”

See the full report, “Mediated Access: Journalists’ Perceptions Of Federal Public Information Officer Media Control,” Society of Professional Journalists, March 12, 2012, by Carolyn Carlson, David Cuillier, and Lindsey Tulkoff, here.