first amendment government employeesBack in the day, a reporter could call someone at an institution or government agency, do an interview and write a story. Those days are long gone. All inquiries now get sent straight to the press office. Frequently, the response is an anemic written statement.

Understandably, organizations want to control their message. But what rights do government employees have to speak publicly – to the press or otherwise? And how do whistleblowers protection rules dictate what an employee can disclose to the public?

Two pieces out this week talk about free speech rights for government employees. The Poynter Institute, a journalism training center, highlights a new report from the University of Florida on the first amendment and public employees right to speak to the media.

Note that whistleblower protection rules sometimes dictate whether it is wise for a whistleblower to go to the press.
Continue Reading Can government employees be fired for something they say? Not legally