or deflected to written questions submitted and cherry-picked by various
PIOs for selective written answers without time (due to my deadlines) for
follow-up questions. I have been told that FDA Press Office policy is to
evaluate requests for interviews according to the extent of readership the
journalist commands. Thus, NBC News and the Wall Street Journal would be
more likely to get the interview than I would with my few-thousand readers.
Granted an off-the record interview with the FDA commissioner, Margaret
Hamburg, I was astounded to see the agency's top PIO sitting with a
tape-recorder at the table. He told me afterwards that agency recordings are
routinely made on such occasions and they are kept for "internal purposes"
for varying periods of time. I found the experience intimidating, as
insurance should I not keep my commitment to be off the record.
When I asked the then-new director of FDA's Center for Devices and
Radiological Health for an interview about his expectations for the job and
how his prior experience fitted him for it, I got a call from the agency's
Press Office informing me that he was too new to FDA to be interviewed by
the press. Whose decision that was I never found out.
Jim Dickinson, Editor
FDA Webview/FDAReview/FDA Update