|NMU||NEW JERSEY/NORTH CAROLINA||Newsgathering||Apr 2, 2002|
Two governors restrict media’s access to state officials
- Governors in New Jersey and North Carolina issued orders disallowing government officials from freely speaking on the record to journalists about the states’ budgets.
Journalists in New Jersey and North Carolina are finding it difficult to gain access to government officials and report on the states’ recently released budgets.
New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey and North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley ordered their top officials and state employees not to discuss the states’ budgets on the record with journalists last week.
In New Jersey, McGreevey’s spokesman Paul Aronsohn said the state treasurer and deputy treasurer would not be available for questions following the budget address last week, unless reporters attributed their comments to “senior administration officials” instead of naming them as individuals, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Television cameras and photographers also were not permitted at the question-and-answer session.
The Inquirer reported that journalists in New Jersey were outraged by McGreevey’s stipulations on the interview process and walked out of the session in protest.
Meanwhile, in North Caroline, the State Employees Association of North Carolina claimed it is outraged by a similar “blanket gag order” issued by Easley. Easley’s cabinet secretaries and upper level managers not only banned state employees from discussing the budget but from talking to journalists about potential job cuts.
Dana S. Cope, executive director of the employees’ group, said in a statement: “I cannot believe the gall of this administration. First they threaten to eliminate employees’ jobs in the midst of the worst economy in a decade and then they tell them not to talk about it to the press.”
© 2002 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press