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What Were They Thinking?: Washington Post Offers Lobbyists Access to Health Reporters, Officials

What Were They Thinking?: Washington Post Offers Lobbyists Access to Health Reporters, Officials

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The Washington Post's newsroom is in an uproar today after the political news website broke a shocking story:

"For $25,000 to $250,000, The Washington Post has offered lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, nonconfrontational access to "those powerful few": Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and - at first - even the paper's own reporters and editors."

The offer, which came in a flyer distributed to lobbyists - one of whom promptly leaked it to Politico - described a salon called "Health-Care Reform: Better or Worse for Americans? The reform and funding debate." The flyer promised lobbyists "collegial" access to officials and the Post's own "health care reporting and editorial staff."

Washington Post Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli quickly quashed any participation by the newsroom staff, saying in a memo:

"We will not participate in events where promises are made that in exchangefor money The Post will offer access to newsroom personnel or will refrainfrom confrontational questioning. Our independence from advertisers or sponsors is inviolable."

After the Politico story broke, Post Publisher and CEO Katharine Weymouth cancelled the exclusive salon - but the damage has been done. Will the Post's reporting on health reform now seem suspect? Some of Politico's commenters think so. Share your thoughts in the comments below.


The Center for Health Journalism’s two-day symposium on domestic violence will provide reporters with a roadmap for covering this public health epidemic with nuance and sensitivity. The first day will take place on the USC campus on Friday, March 17. The Center has a limited number of $300 travel stipends for California journalists coming from outside Southern California and a limited number of $500 travel stipends for those coming from out of state. Journalists attending the symposium will be eligible to apply for a reporting grant of $2,000 to $10,000 from our Domestic Violence Impact Reporting Fund. Find more info here!


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