Kathryn Foxhall

Independent Journalist

Independent journalist

Professional Bio

Because she needed a job, Kathryn Foxhall inadvertently became a reporter on a weekly newspaper in her hometown of Selma, Alabama. Her addiction was irreversible within two weeks.

She covered health in Washington for 40 years, including 14 years (1978-1992) as editor of the American Public Health Association’s newspaper.

After years of getting a dynamic education by speaking frankly with sources on Capitol Hill and in federal agencies, she became alarmed when, 25-30 years ago, federal workers gradually came under rules prohibiting them from communicating with journalists without the oversight of public relations offices—in reality, heavy censorship coming down from the people in power.

As SPJ surveys would later show, these restrictions have become entrenched through much of the U.S. culture with government staff, teachers, scientists, police officers and many other employees under coercion either to never speak to the press, or to never speak without notifying the authorities.

Kathryn approached SPJ about it and the society took up the issue even while many journalists acquiesced, saying nothing could be done. Among other things, that led to letters signed by dozens of groups to the Presidential Administrations and a meeting of an SPJ-led delegation with White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

For many years before COVID 19 hit, CDC blocked reporters and told us who we could talk to and allowed no contact that was not controlled.
“One question for journalists is whether this is corrupting us as much it is the leadership in government and the private sector. We are watching intense suppression of information, but we assume we are not publishing a very skewed picture. But gagged staff and closed doors will inevitably mean very bad situations and people being hurt,” Kathryn said.


Parent: Independent journalist


Birmingham Southern College 1972


Birmingham Southern College 1972



2021 SPJ, Wells Key, Highest Award for Service to SPJ