CSM joins call on Trump for transparency in administration

AEJMC’s Commission on the Status of Minorities is supporting major news organizations, many of which represent multicultural constituencies, in their call for President-elect Donald Trump’s administration to give newspeople access to his movements and regular opportunities to dialogue with him.

“Your administration is a blank slate and we are eager to work with you to perpetuate one of this nation’s great strengths: our freedom of the press,” the letter begins.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, January 18, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
President-elect Donald Trump should give a press pool access to his movements and hold regular news conferences, says AEJMC’s Commission on the Status of Minorities and a letter from 15 prominent news groups.

Signing the note were leaders of 15 groups, including the National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists and Native American Journalists Association. They asked for a continuation of the press pool that follows the president as he goes through his daily schedule as well as for an adequate number of news conferences to discuss events and policies.

“While the commission joins with many in historically underrepresented groups in concern over the next president and his policies, CSM also believes we must move forward and cover the next administration fairly and diligently, holding it to high standards of transparency and First Amendment promises of freedom of the press,” says Commission Chairman Kyle Huckins.

A post-election meeting between Trump and top TV news personalities and executives didn’t go well, report some sources familiar with what happened there, with the new chief executive excoriating broadcasters for bias and inaccuracy. While that’s not the best start, it’s important to note a recent study from Media Research Center found 91 percent of TV news coverage was hostile to Trump during the heart of the campaign. The Obama administration also had a checkered record with First Amendment media protection, targeting the Associated Press and other vital news sources with investigations of questionable ethicality and engaging in a running battle with conservative digital media.

“This isn’t about access for the press itself, it’s about access for Americans in diverse communities across the country,” the letter asserts. The Commission on the Status of Minorities agrees, saying all involved should avoid being hampered by past mistakes of both reporters and sources and work together for the sake of the nation and world.

CSM is the diversity advocacy arm of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the largest organization of media professors in the world at 3,500 members. The commission works for multiculturalism in professional media, academia and AEJMC.

The full text of the letter is republished below.

Dear President-elect Trump,

We, a group of diverse journalism associations representing thousands of journalists from the nation’s capital to every corner of the country, begin this letter on a hopeful note. Your administration is a blank slate and we are eager to work with you to perpetuate one of this nation’s great strengths: our freedom of the press. 

As the new leader of the free world, we expect that you will preserve longstanding traditions that ensure coverage of the Trump presidency. The idea of a press pool that covers all of the president’s movements is one that dates back to the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration. Every president of both parties has treated this important tradition with respect. The role of the press pool is critically important to our country, whose citizens depend on and deserve to know what the president is doing. This isn’t about access for the press itself, it’s about access for Americans in diverse communities across the country. Your constituents receive information from a variety of platforms to learn about what our president is doing.

Being president is an enormous responsibility and working with the White House Correspondents’ Association to ensure journalists’ access is one small but important part of that. We call on you to commit to a protective press pool from now until the final day of your presidency. We respectfully ask you to instill a spirit of openness and transparency in your administration in many ways but first and foremost via the press pool. 

We also call for access to you via regular press conferences and pool sprays and to your key decision-makers. You have an opportunity as incoming president to set the tone for your staff speaking on the record for the sake of transparency. We also hope your administration will improve response rates to FOIA requests as a way to show the American people, and the world, that the republic belongs to the people.

A great America depends on having sunlight on its leaders. We expect the traditions of White House press coverage to be upheld whether in Washington or elsewhere. Again we, a joint group of diverse journalism associations, speak as one as we respectfully ask that you take these steps to ensure access to our members covering your administration.