Tuesday, January 24, 2017

USDA attempting to clarify order to stop releasing news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content

“Employees of the scientific research arm at the Agriculture Department were ordered Monday to cease publication of ‘outward facing’ documents and news releases, raising concerns that the Trump administration was seeking to influence distribution of their findings. 

Starting immediately and until further notice, [the Agricultural Research Service (ARS)] will not release any public-facing documents. This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content, wrote ARS chief Sharon Drumm in an email to employees.

Department officials scrambled to clarify the memo Tuesday afternoon, after intense public scrutiny and media requests, stating that ARS had not ‘blacked out public information’ and adding that scientific articles published through professional peer-reviewed journals have not been banned. Such a decree would have conflicted with established scientific integrity standards and previous media guidance ‘encouraging, but not requiring, USDA scientists to communicate with the media about their scientific findings.’

‘As the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency, ARS values and is committed to maintaining the free flow of information between our scientists and the American public as we strive to find solutions to agricultural problems affecting America,’ ARS said in a statement to The Washington Post Tuesday afternoon, seeking to clarify the scope of the memo.

The original guidance — which specifically bans news releases and social-media content — remains intact.” [ .... ]  

The rest of the article in the The Washington Post is here.

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