WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Shop Talk - February 21

Feb 21, 2012

The panelists discuss the problems the Society of Environmental Journalists have encountered in recent years with the US EPA.

The SEJ says the federal agency asks for questions in writing ahead of time, it wants to know what kind of story the reporter is working on, and it's slow to respond to requests for information. The journalism group says the EPA rarely makes available the expert who could be most helpful with the story.

Panelist Rich Egger said journalists encountered similar problems with the Blagojevich administration in Illinois. He said reporters are especially disappointed because the Obama administration promised to be more open with reporters and the public.

Panelist Bill Knight said a good interview is like a conversation. He feels it's wrong to expect reporters to stick to questions scripted out ahead of time because something said during the interview might spark a new question. He said the EPA policies demonstrate how people in power try to control the flow of information.

Panelist Mike Murray said it's regrettable that the EPA is requiring so much lead time to respond to questions and thinks its policies will prevent tough - and necessary - questions from being asked.