WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Public Info Officers – Help or Hindrance?

Mar 12, 2013

The panelists discuss whether public information officers help disseminate information or get in the way.

The launching point is a column on the RTDNA website by Chairman Vincent Duffy. Among other things, he tells the story of a New York Department of Transportation worker who got in trouble for praising his department’s work without first receiving PIO permission to speak with the media.

The Shop Talk panelists recognize government agencies and businesses might feel a need to implement such rules, especially when employees have so many social media options available for voicing opinions. But the panelists fear these rules could have a chilling effect on workers, especially potential whistleblowers.

The panelists also agree – as does Duffy – that a good PIO can be valuable. A good PIO can direct reporters to sources and line up interviews without trying to control everything that is said.

Some journalists have created the website Stop the New American Censorship to combat what they consider increasing levels of interference from PIOs.