Monday, June 28, 2010

Do you restrict press recordings at your medical meeting?

Your help is needed with a new effort to compile medical meetings' policies on journalistic coverage--specifically policies about whether and how reporters can record and/or photograph technical sessions at those meetings.

Journalist Bob Finn is working with the Association of Health Care Journalists' Right to Know Committee on an effort to end restrictions on recording and photography that some societies impose on journalists covering their scientific meetings. The effort grew out of an AHCJ letter to several scientific societies earlier this year, protesting such restrictions.  AHCJ also notes best practices, such as this one: 
The American Heart Association is cited as a group with rules that work. AHA requires reporters to obtain credentials, ask for permission and sometimes have an escort before they make recordings or videotapes. These more reasonable restrictions still allow reporters to get what they need to report fully and accurately. (See the AHA guidelines.)
Finn aims to compile a list of every medical meeting that has such restrictions, along with the actual text of their rules. Send relevant policies to him finn[at]nasw[dot]org, or feel free to share them in the comments below. He'd also like to know how carefully the rules are enforced.  Are security guards called in? Reporters ejected? Exceptions made?

I'm fortunate to have both reporters and public affairs/public information teams reading this blog, so let me add my own plea:  We all do a better job making information public when it's clear to all what the landscape looks like.  Share your observations--and make sure they are about medical meetings, only, please.

Readers of this blog will recall that Finn shared a guest post on misunderstandings about the "Ingelfinger rule," which many scientists cite when they avoid presenting their work in front of reporters at meetings.  He's covered hundreds of such meetings in the course of his career, and I'm looking forward to the results of this search.

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