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The Department of Commerce has issued a blanket media policy to employees of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), requiring that all requests for contact from national media be first approved by the Department, RAW STORY has learned.
According to a leaked Sept. 29 email memo sent out to NOAA staff, including employees of the National Weather Service (NWS) -- both of which are under the Department of Commerce -- employees must collect information from reporters and forward it to the Department.
The memo was leaked to RAW STORY last week.
Employees must obtain the following:
-The name of the reporter and their affiliation
-Their deadline and contact phone number
-The name of the individual being requested to give the interview
-The purpose of the interview
-The expertise of the requested interviewee on this subject.
“Prior to this policy change, if a media organization called our office (or any other National Weather Service office) and wanted an interview, we would do our best to accommodate the request as quickly as possible,” said one NOAA employee who requested anonymity. “While often such requests are from local media, local offices do get requests from national media if a weather event is big enough to be a national story.”
The policy requires that local weather offices forward media requests to the NWS press office, who in turn would forward the request on to the Commerce Department’s public relations office. The Department would then decide whether comment should be granted.
Under this new policy, the Department, rather than the weather agencies, would also determine who would then provide comment.
“There has been no explanation as to why this policy was issued. It does appear the intent of this policy is to restrict the flow of weather information to the national media,” said the NOAA employee who also expressed concern over why Commerce is suddenly making blanket policy decisions for the NWS and deciding who can speak to the media.