OLD Media Moves

Jobs data release jeopardized by Labor Department restrictions

April 17, 2012

Posted by Chris Roush

The U.S. Department of Labor said it can’t assure news organizations they will be able to transmit market-sensitive economic data at exactly the same moment under changes resulting from the first review of procedures in a decade, reports Meera Lewis of Bloomberg News.

Lewis writes, “The agency ordered journalists to remove computer hardware, software and communications lines they currently have installed at the department to transmit news on data such as the jobless rate and consumer prices. Instead, reporters will have to use equipment, software and Internet connections provided by the government.

“‘I’m not going to guarantee anything,’ Carl A. Fillichio, the department’s senior adviser for communications and public affairs in Washington, said on a conference call when asked if every news organization will be assured a connection to the Internet ‘at exactly the same millisecond.’

“Under the current system, credentialed journalists in so-called lockups are given data in advance of their release to the public, allowing time to prepare stories, headlines and tables. Communication by phone or computer is cut off for the half hour that reporters are typically given to write their stories. A Department of Labor employee then flips a switch that opens telephone and data lines, allowing journalists to transmit their stories using their own equipment.

“Bloomberg News is among the organizations that participate. Bloomberg has written to the Department of Labor opposing the changes.”

Read more here.

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