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IAPA concerned over tension between Florida's new governor and the press

(IAPA/IFEX) - Miami, January 19, 2011 - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expressed concern over the inauspicious beginning in the working relationship between Florida Governor Rick Scott and the press assigned to cover official events. The organization called for "clear rules" by the state that meet constitutional obligations with regard to information.

A group of correspondents covering government acts in the state capital of Tallahassee, filed complaints with the Florida Society of News Editors citing unprecedented controls over access to the governor, his public activities, and discrimination in the distribution of public information. Scott assumed the governorship on January 4.

IAPA President Gonzalo Marroquín, director of the Guatemalan daily Prensa Libre, said "although there is often a natural tension between government officials and the press, we hope this inauspicious beginning will be contemplated within the context, above all, of the right of Florida's citizens to full access to official matters of public interest."

The journalists cited a series of incidents, including the governor's team's failure to advise about upcoming public events, limitations and denial of access to official acts, and discrimination in the selection of which members of the press and media attend events. They also reported delays in the distribution of official information.

Robert Rivard, chairman of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, and editor of the San Antonio Express-News, said "it is necessary to bring these misconceptions out in the open early so they can be corrected and so that there is a clear understanding of the constitutional and legal obligations concerning public events, official information and access to information by the press - necessary for the fundamental goal of government transparency safeguarding the right of all citizens to live fully democratic lives ".

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