Posted in Behind the News

Fighting to inform the public

, by Lauren Easton

In an interview on the PBS “NewsHour,” AP Executive Editor Sally Buzbee addressed the importance of press access and explained why journalists sometimes need to cite anonymous sources.

AP chose not to attend a White House briefing on Friday when it learned other major news organizations had been barred from attending.

“We think that the public deserves as much access to the president and other governing officials as possible,” Buzbee explained in the interview. “When we find ourselves in a situation where national news organizations seem to be being deliberately excluded, we think that’s dangerous territory.”

Buzbee also noted that if there start to be exclusions and favorites picked, in the end all access will suffer.

On the topic of anonymous sources, she explained:

The White House in Washington as seen from the South Lawn, Feb. 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Reporters attempt at all times to get people to talk to them with their names attached, because that obviously is the gold standard. If there is information that you cannot get any other way, and you know that it’s factual information, not spin, but someone is in a position to know what they’re talking about, we think that information is critically important, and the public needs to know about it. It’s actually very difficult to get the government to tell you what they’re doing. We fight for information and for facts every day. We have for decades. It’s really a struggle to get information, factual information about what the government is doing. But we view it really as our mission to find out what the government is doing, the actions, the thoughts that they’re having, the decisions they’re mulling, and express that to the public. And that’s why we use anonymous sources whenever we have to. We don’t like it, but sometimes it’s the only way to get facts to the public.

When asked about what the AP plans to do if President Trump continues to be tough on news organizations, Buzbee said:

We are going to do what we always do, which is, we are going to fight like mad to find out what’s going on in terms of facts, and we are going to report that to the public. And we are going to do that every single day. And we are not going to stop. That’s our plan.

Read the full transcript of the interview here.

Buzbee’s interview begins at 4:03: