Craig The Craig Daily Press and the Colorado Press Association have received a response from U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s office regarding her visit to Moffat County and the barring of reporters from a public meeting.
In a letter emailed Tuesday evening, the Department of the Interior expressed regret about the miscommunication about the meeting that led to Craig Daily Press reporter Erin Fenner twice being asked to leave.
“The Department of the Interior strives to maintain an open and transparent relationship with the press and the public, and we sincerely regret the incident and any role we had in the miscommunication,” the letter from Department of the Interior Director of Communications Kate Kelly said. “As you suggest, we are redoubling our efforts to coordinate with local government offices to ensure transparency and respect for important press freedoms.”
Media attorney Steve Zansberg wrote the letter to Jewell’s office on behalf of the CPA and the Daily Press and sent it Monday, requesting Jewell ensured reporters aren’t held out of meetings that should be open to the public.
Jewell was in Moffat County Jan. 22, along with Gov. John Hickenlooper and other government members, to view local sage grouse conservation strategies. It was a disappointment that such a positive visit to Northwest Colorado turned sour at the end, her office said.
“The misunderstanding was also unfortunate because it has distracted from the original purpose of the Secretary’s visit: to highlight the work that is being done on the ground through private landowners and at all levels of government on these critical sage grouse efforts,” the letter said.
Craig Daily Press Managing Editor Noelle Leavitt Riley was satisfied with the correspondence from the Department of the Interior, and she thinks they will improve on similar visits in the future.
“I'm very pleased with the Secretary of Interior's response. Not only does she and her staff acknowledge that the situation was handled poorly, but they said they'll strive to do better in the future," Leavitt Riley said. “This situation is an example of how the press and federal officials can solve breakdowns in communication and work together in getting important news to the community.”
Contact Nate Waggenspack at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.