They might not be able to control the weather, but that doesn't mean they aren't trying to control the weather information: the Commerce Department is trying to get "message control" in place at the National Weather Service.
A Commerce memo leaked to this site lays down all the requirements that employees of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the NWS should have with the media:
Employees must obtain the following:
-The name of the reporter and their affiliation
-Their deadline and contact phone number
-The name of the individual being requested to give the interview
-The purpose of the interview
-The expertise of the requested interviewee on this subject.
"Prior to this policy change, if a media organization called our office (or any other National Weather Service office) and wanted an interview, we would do our best to accommodate the request as quickly as possible," said one NOAA employee who requested anonymity. "While often such requests are from local media, local offices do get requests from national media if a weather event is big enough to be a national story."
The policy requires that local weather offices forward media requests to the NWS press office, who in turn would forward the request on to the Commerce Department's public relations office. The Department would then decide whether comment should be granted.
Under this new policy, the Department, rather than the weather agencies, would also determine who would then provide comment.
NOAA claims that this was their policy all along, that it isn't mandatory, and that the person who sent out the email was new there. However:
Some National Weather Service staff expressed surprise when RAW STORY recounted the media policy St. John articulated. Some employees stated that they had never seen the original media policy before, and find the timing of the reminder from Teet to be suspect given the recent political impact of hurricane Katrina.
And, the policy above differs from the one that was supposedly in place all along.
Compare the DOC policy with NASA's policy:
To ensure a responsive public communications program and enhance public perception of NASA, each Center has designated a Public Inquiries Officer for managing communications, including letters, e-mails, faxes and telephone inquiries, from the general public. In accordance with the President's Management Agenda E-Gov Initiatives, NASA is also participating in the Government-wide Misdirected E-mail Initiative. This initiative is specifically designed to further enhance the public's ease and access to government services, products and information.
Here is how the E-Gov Initiative works. Effective immediately, if you receive an e-mail from a member of the public, promptly forward it to the designated e-mail address for your Center, listed at http://insidenasa.nasa.gov/nasa_nas/ops/public_inquiry/ If you receive an e-mail that you believe does not fall under NASA's purview for response, simply forward the communication to firstname.lastname@example.org E-mails sent to this account will be reviewed and then redirected to the proper agency for appropriate disposition...
In both cases, no follow up is necessary. You will not receive a reply that the e-mail has been successfully accepted, nor will you receive a copy of the response. Once you have forwarded the e-mail to your Center's public inquiries address or to email@example.com, you are finished.