Often, the natural inclination of those governing us is to do their work with as little scrutiny as possible.
It’s just human nature for everyone, not just those working in government. But, with government workers, we empower and fund the work they do. Government, and especially elected officials, work for us. It’s our collective job as Americans and as taxpayers to give them direction and oversight.
To do that, taxpayers rely on good information through the media.
Gov. Mike Parson has made that job more difficult by taking the media out of his daily press briefings, which have become “virtual” press briefings.
The move was made in the name of safety during our COVID-19 pandemic. But is it really necessary?
Other governors continue to allow media in their briefings. So does President Donald Trump.
In Parson’s briefings, reporters covering the event must submit questions prior to the event. That poses several problems to freedom of the press. First, there have been days when not many questions have been addressed. Second, we don’t know whether the questions are picked at random or screened by the Governor’s Office. Third, the process doesn’t allow reporters to react to information they heard during the briefing that day. Fourth, there’s no opportunity for follow-up questions when answers to questions are lacking.
That said, Parson has previously been relatively open with the press compared with some of his recent predecessors. Also, he has made occasional exceptions to this new process and allowed live questions.
But there’s no reason that can’t be done daily, with reporters being subjected to health checks, masks and proper spacing.
During this pandemic, it’s even more important that we get detailed, relevant information that is fleshed out by on-the-spot questions by the Capitol Press Corps.
We respectfully request Parson alter the process to make this possible, which will increase transparency in the process.