Let Scientists Speak Out

While federal government scientists play a critical role in protecting our health, safety and environment, many report that they are often discouraged from sharing their scientific research and analysis with the media and the public. In fact, a recent Union of Concerned Scientists investigation found that the media policies and practices of some federal agencies effectively censor scientists, impeding their ability to discuss their work with their peers and with interested journalists who convey research findings to the public.

Other federal agencies—like NASA—have changed their policies to allow their scientists far greater freedom in meeting their public service missions, demonstrating that it is possible for the government to do better.

Federal scientists must feel free to speak out about research findings that impact our lives. Please urge federal agency leaders to improve their agencies' media policies.

Subject: Allow Scientists to Speak Freely With the Public

Dear [Agency Official],

A recent investigation conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that your agency could improve its communication between agency scientists and the press. Please create a forward-thinking media policy that encourages open communication between scientists, the media, policy makers and the public.

[Your personal comments will be added here.]

Federal scientists should be able to alert the public when their research indicates a potential public health, safety or environmental hazard. Unfortunately, there have been many recent documented cases in which scientists at federal agencies have been censored and the media stymied in their attempts to access government scientific information.

In order to meet your public service mission, your agency should allow scientists to more effectively communicate about their scientific research and expertise. A model media policy can be found here:
http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/scientific_integrity/Model-Media-Policy-1.pdf
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