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Mixed media policies of US federal agencies

You cite two US government agencies that interact openly with the media (Nature 483, 6; 2012): the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Yet these are rare exceptions in my experience as editor of FDA Webview and FDA Review.

Take the US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which last September proclaimed a repressive media guidelines policy. All journalists are now referred to its press office, which permits access only to selected personnel and may monitor and record interviews (see go.nature.com/xczin6).

Another large US government entity, the Department of Justice, has gone even further. Barely a month after the DHHS move, it proposed a rule that directs federal law-enforcement agencies to respond to requests for particularly sensitive documents under the Freedom of Information Act “as if the excluded records did not exist” (see go.nature.com/gfd8pn).

Recent guidelines on openness from the NSF and NOAA are modest steps in the right direction — albeit on a tiny scale, given the size, scope and complexity of the US federal government.

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Correspondence to James G. Dickinson.

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Dickinson, J. Mixed media policies of US federal agencies. Nature 483, 407 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/483407a

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