Bureaucracies are not fond of the free flow of information. It is a deeply ingrained trait of large organizations to jealously guard information from the press and the public. Democracy, on the other hand, requires openness. Without the ability to independently get information on the day to day operations of government agencies, there is no way for the public to evaluate how well those agencies are doing their jobs.
Many governmental agencies set up barriers to direct contact between reporters and the people who are supposed to be carrying out the activities of government with the taxpayer's money. Those agencies direct the press to representatives who carefully ration and control information. The likelihood of getting accurate information from people whose sole function is to spin news to the benefit of the bureaucracy is very small.
38 journalism organizations have signed a letter to President Obama calling on him to end the practices in federal agencies that block information to the press and the public. A press release by the Society of Professional Journalists states that those policies include:
• Officials blocking reporters’ requests to talk to specific staff people;
• Excessive delays in answering interview requests that stretch past reporters’ deadlines;
• Officials conveying information “on background,” refusing to give reporters what should be public information unless they agree not to say who is speaking.
• Federal agencies blackballing reporters who write critically of them.
This is an issue which goes beyond the usual horse race politics of Right and Left. Every citizen needs the press to be able to accurately report on the workings of government. The only way to achieve this is with free and open access. It's your government. You're paying for it. It doesn't belong to the managers of the bureaucracies.
You can read the entire press release from the Society of Professional Journalists describing the effort here.
The text of the letter sent by the organizations to President Obama is here.