ST. PAUL (AP) -- Employees at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are being instructed by the agency's chief to deny interviews to a Star Tribune of Minneapolis reporter unless they get to read his articles before publication.
DNR Commissioner Allen Garber's new policy for dealing with Dennis Anderson, the paper's lead outdoors writer, is part of a long-running dispute. But it arose after Anderson questioned agency actions in a column earlier this summer.
Anderson wrote in June that the DNR "stayed mum" about its proposal to study lower fish bag limits until after the Legislature approved new funding for the agency, implying that officials were worried their money would be in jeopardy if the study was disclosed.
Dennis Stauffer, Garber's spokesman, said the column was "disingenuous" because another Star Tribune reporter previously wrote about the study.
Stauffer said the new interview policy is specific to Anderson. Stauffer said the agency wants to review the content of Anderson's articles, but is not asking for power to change them.
"He does not have to submit to this; we don't have to talk to him," Stauffer said. "We're not stonewalling him; we're simply setting some rules of engagement here about how we want to approach that relationship because, quite honestly, we feel we've been burned."
Garber instituted the new rule after a meeting with Star Tribune editors that didn't leave him satisfied, Stauffer said. He didn't use other options available to him to express his dissatisfaction, such as a request for a correction or taking the newspaper to the Minnesota News Council.
Tim McGuire, the Star Tribune's editor, said Wednesday that he had written a letter to Garber after conducting his own investigation. In the letter, which he declined to release, he asked Garber to reconsider the policy.
"I'm satisfied that Dennis Anderson has done nothing wrong," McGuire said.
Anderson said, "I doubt we will sit idly by and not have access to public officials and public information. I don't know how this works itself out, but if it doesn't, certainly the public is the loser."
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