Press Access

Missouri Journalists Criticize Governor for Lack of Access to COVID-19 Press Briefings

Shoppers line up to enter a Home Depot building supplies store as they practice social distancing to help slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in north St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. April 4, 2020. Picture taken April 4, 2020. REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant

Missouri Governor Mike Parson is facing criticism for his decision to bar reporters from attending COVID-19 press briefings.

Like a number of states, Missouri has moved from in-person press briefings to online ones in an effort to limit the spread of coronavirus. But unlike other states, Missouri has barred the press from asking questions in real-time. 

According to The Kansas City Star, the governor is asking reporters to submit questions by email an hour in advance of the briefings, at which point Parson’s staff selects which ones will be answered during the livestream. Even the pre-submitted questions are sometimes left unanswered, the newspaper reported. 

Mark Gordon, the president and CEO of the Missouri Broadcasters Association, told The Kansas City Star that the new measures have made it difficult to pose follow up questions or ask questions on the spot. “The frustration is that other states are doing it and the president of the United States doing it. So I don’t know why we can’t do it in Missouri. And that is disappointing, to say the least,” Gordon said. 

Mike Fannin, president and editor of The Kansas City Star also criticized the governor’s actions, noting that as a public official, Parson is accountable to the citizens he serves.

“Citizens do not benefit when a governor is allowed to handpick the few questions he chooses to answer, particularly during a public health crisis. Too many days, urgent questions that are relevant to the health and safety of Missourians are going unanswered,” Fannin told The Star.

The Kansas City Star