Maryland Government Won’t Talk to 2 ‘Sun’ Reporters

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(AP) Press officers in Maryland’s state agencies have been ordered to stop giving information to a reporter and a columnist for Baltimore’s The Sun, at the same time the newspaper publishes articles examining Gov. Robert Ehrlich’s policies on the sale of state-owned lands.

An e-mail sent Thursday to public information officers in 19 agencies reads: “No one in the executive department or agencies is to speak with David Nitkin or Michael Olesker until further notice. Do not return calls or comply with any requests.”

Nitkin, chief of The Sun’s State House bureau, said he and editors at the newspaper are trying to negotiate with Ehrlich’s office and reopen lines of communication.

“It’s disturbing that the Ehrlich administration feels they can single out which journalists they choose to talk to,” Nitkin said. “It has a chilling effect on all professionals who strive to be the eyes and ears of the public and ask tough questions of public officials.”

Press secretary Greg Massoni said in the memo that Nitkin and Olesker “are failing to objectively report on any issue dealing with the Ehrlich-Steele administration.”

The letter does not mention specific Sun coverage of the administration, but Massoni said the cut-off is partly because of a front-page map this week that mistakenly labeled all state-protected lands as those being considered for sale.

The newspaper corrected the mistake in Friday’s editions and ran a map labeling each parcel of the 3,000 acres that have been identified as possible candidates for sale.

Massoni also pointed to Tuesday’s column by Olesker, which focused on a legislative hearing that criticized the governor’s starring role in commercials promoting state tourism. Massoni criticized Olesker for not attending the hearing.

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