Friday, June 8, 2012

THE SILENT TREATMENT: THE MEDIA AND GOVERNMENT


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"In the past few months, several times
the government has brought in legislative
changes that are entirely positive, and
supported by all three parties in the House
 of Assembly. Despite the fact that they
were doing good things that everybody was
happy with, government ministers absolutely
refused to speak to journalists, and talk about
what was going on."

 James McLeod
Briefing Note Blog
The Telegram
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 The bow-tie wearing legislative reporter for The Telegram, James McLeod, has been offering a behind the scenes peek at the trends, tricks and quirks of the House of Assembly via his professional  blog Briefing Notes.

His posts offer a wrap of legislative business and he provides lots of insights into the mechanics of how our democracy functions, or fails, to function. His latest blog investigates a policy that both the Government House Leader and the Premier's Communications director say has been in practice for many years.

At issue is the refusal of Ministers to discuss proposed legislation until it is in second reading. It might appear on the surface to be a pretty dry and uneventful topic, but the practice is not replicated in other jurisdictions and McLeod would like to see the embargo lifted.

He provides an in-depth rationale for change that I think unveils a communications division that wants to control the message but is missing out on being part of many positive stories. The government may say that it is them, not the reporters that control the time-line, but in fact they are becoming a smaller part of the story by giving the media the silent treatment.

There are a half-dozen news organizations in this city. They are as competitive as  one can be in this market. Reporters have to find stories, do research and discover new angles. Occasionally one will scoop the rest. When Ministers refuse to discuss issues, like upcoming legislation, the reporters go to the opposition or to groups looking for change.  In this context the government looks reactive not pro-active.

What happens when the media says, you know what, we have covered that story, or after being turned away on a issue, the refuse to show up for a press conference?

I am pretty sure you will enjoy McLeod's other interesting observations. Briefing Notes is a great contribution to the local political scene.


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

to much media and to many talk shows.

Jay L said...

Anon 917 no one forces you to read, listen, or watch. You are free to engage or not engage as you like. If you think there's too much media than don't consume it.