Viewpoint: July 14, 2010

As BP and the federal government try to contain a massive oil spill, it seems they've also put a great deal of effort into trying to contain the flow of information to the public. Since day one, oil giant BP has been grossly underestimating the amount of crude gushing into the Gulf.

And, two weeks ago, the national incident commander, retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, put severe restrictions on media coverage. His rule kept reporters and news photographers at least 65 feet away from boom. That's too far to get the stunning pictures of oily birds and sealife, and boom that's being undermined by the steady advance of oil. That's too far away to show the shocking reality of the damage to our precious coast.

Now, that policy has been reversed. Thad Allen announced June 13 that media with proper credentials will have unfettered access to this event, unless there is a safety or security concern.   That is a win for the public's right to see in startling detail the impact of this disaster.

If there is a silver lining at all to this fiasco, it is the intense media coverage that has been showing the nation, and the world, the importance of saving our fragile coastline. Let's hope after 85 days, the federal government and BP have learned they won't fix this problem by trying to hide it.