The Public Affairs Office is one of the key components in the Public Policy and Programs Division - dedicated to providing the media with timely and accurate information in addition to acting as counsel to leadership and AUSAs on matters relating to the media. As such, the Southern District of Texas vigorously pursues the United States Attorney’s mission to inform the public about significant cases handled by the district.
To accomplish this goal, the Public Affairs Office has a proactive approach that establishes professional relationships with print and broadcast reporters, responds to press inquiries on matters of public record, develops media strategies in advance of newsworthy events or announcements, prepares press releases, arranges interviews, plans and prepares press conferences to include for the United States Attorney and handles a myriad of related tasks that arise daily. The Public Affairs Office also routinely assists in the planning, developing and organizing of special events and projects throughout the SDTX.
The United States Attorney believes that accurate media coverage of aspects of the United States Attorney’s Office’s work builds better public understanding of our efforts. Therefore, the Public Affairs Officer acts as the official press contact for the entire district, working with personnel in responding to media inquiries as liaison to the local media. In order to effectively disseminate newsworthy information to the media, the office maintains e-mail distribution lists of hundreds of media contacts within the district and throughout the United States. If you are a member of the media and would like to be added to that list, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Public Affairs Office objective is to be as helpful and responsive to the media as possible while still protecting an individual’s right to a fair trial and the government’s ability to effectively enforce the administration of justice. At times, balancing this tightrope can be quite difficult, but when done effectively, the standards of the office and those of the district will continue to be exceptionally maintained.
Careful weight must be given in each case to protecting the rights of victims and litigants as well as the protection of life and safety of other parties and witnesses. To this end, the courts and Congress have recognized the need for limited confidentiality in:
• On-going investigations
• Grand jury and tax matters
• Certain investigative techniques
• Other matters protected by law
The office also works with other federal agencies to ensure the most accurate information is presented and within the guidelines set forth by the Department of Justice. We follow DOJ policy with strict adherence and do not take our matters of justice lightly. We act as sole media representative for any case that might be prosecuted by our office, which ensures the delivery of one clear message and the assurance that the appropriate messages are distributed. We also work very closely with DOJ Office of Public Affairs to ensure the appropriate messages are distributed and relevant SDTX news gets into the national pipeline.
All of these activities and guidelines translate into a deluge of calls coming into the office on a daily basis that must be addressed. Calls originate from media in our nation’s fourth largest metropolitan area all the way to the Mexican border in addition to several national outlets seeking information regarding our cases and national issues that may arise.
Press conferences are held to announce significant events and the SDTX takes pride in planning and presenting such high quality press events to better assist the media.
All in all, the office is a constant stream of activity with the desire to ensure the highest reputation of the district, the U.S. Attorney and USAO as a whole.