OPEN LETTER TO PRESS SECRETARY JEN PSAKI AND PRESIDENT BIDEN REGARDING NEW POLICY OF CHARGING THE PRESS FOR COVID TESTING

Open Letter to Press Secretary Jen Psaki and President Biden regarding new policy of charging the press for COVID testing. 

Press Secretary Jen Psaki takes questions from reporters during a press briefing (Photo by Chandler West)

Dear Jen and President Biden,

I am writing to ask you to reconsider your new policy of charging members of the White House press for COVID testing [$170 per test]. By requiring reporters to pay for COVID testing as a condition of access discriminates against independent journalists as well as the foreign press.  

Diversity of viewpoints is fundamental to democracy. More than ever, America needs independent voices who do high-quality, original journalism in the footsteps of Martha Kumar, Christopher Hitchens, Helen Thomas, and others from both sides and center of the political spectrum. 

The new policy that requires us to pay for tests unfortunately is opening the door to “pay to play” journalism.

While many of my colleagues and I share your concern and understand the high costs of free daily testing for the press, the financial burden of the pandemic should not be placed on journalists and media companies. 

I am a minority-owned American business, female, immigrant, ex military spouse, and it seems that independent journalists, small radio, TV, foreign press, etc. will be the most adversely affected by this new policy. 

You have recently announced supporting and encouraging small American business as the top priority for your administration but the independent press, freelance journalists and photographers, simply cannot afford this additional cost for testing.

If the White House cannot provide free tests for all, then, this can be quickly resolved by providing access to vaccines to the White House press as essential workers which fundamentally we are. 

Journalism is a public service as we uphold the public’s right to know. It feels fundamentally wrong for a journalist to effectively have to pay to report on the government.

I would like to ask you to urgently reconsider and that together with WHCA, who shares our concern, we work together to find a permanent lasting solution while we all try to navigate through this pandemic. 

Yours,

Ksenija Pavlovic Mcateer,

The Pavlovic Today

 

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