February 05, 2007

Feb. 5, 2007: Media

Prime Minister won battle with Parliament Hill media: Sears , Simon Doyle, The Hill Times, February 5th, 2007


In a predictable but "unfortunate precedent," Prime Minister Stephen Harper has won the battle with the Parliamentary Press Gallery for control of news conferences, says Robin Sears, a close observer of federal politics and principal at Navigator Ltd., a strategic consulting firm. [Who did they consult for? That could be key to his political bias.]

[....] Just before the holiday break, Mr. Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) broke with the practice of avoiding the press gallery and held a news conference in the Senate foyer on Parliament Hill. Until then, the PM hadn't held a proper news conference on the Hill since May 2006, when a room full of reporters [led by the very politicized Radio Canada reporter who apparently commanded the group. Check further for his name which I posted in that period.] walked out of an announcement because they objected to the PM's system of selecting which reporters get to ask questions from his press secretary's list. [I believe that had been the method at some time in the past, actually, and it was fine for a Liberal PM dealing with friendly reporters waiting to receive the manna and regurgitate it for the proles. It became a problem for those same journalists when the government changed. In case I have mis-remembered this, check futher.]

[Note, no names -- whether with Radio Canada, for example, or CBC. It's like writing "sources say" and that may be used for any purpose, not necessarily to present news] Many reporters felt the Prime Minister's Office "cherry-picked" specific reporters and, without news conferences on the Hill, increasingly began to feel as though their opportunities to ask regular questions of the PM had dried up entirely. But since Mr. Harper's Hill news conference in December, he has held several "media availabilities" in Ottawa, taking questions from the press gallery, but only on his terms.

Now the gallery is divided about whether to go on the [Note the editorializing in the words ... "presidential-style"] list system. Those who do not, don't get to ask questions, and those who do, may get selected to ask a question. Radio-Canada recently joined a number of news organizations, such as CanWest News Service, CTV and Reuters, that have opted to go on the list. The Canadian Press, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, CBC, TVA and Le Devoir are staying off the list in protest.

Search: Radio-Canada story in January, which inaccurately reported , Fédération Professionnelle des Journalistes du Québec , Lawrence Martin, a political biographer [of Jean Chretien] and Globe columnist, Susan Delacourt, Star bureau chief , Liberal Deputy Leader Michael Ignatieff (Etobicoke-Lakeshore, Ont.) said [who is, as a losing Liberal leadership contender, completely unbiased in his comments on this, of course] , Mr. Soudas, the PM's press secretary

With the exception of the CBC which will be negative about the PM and Conservatives but which pretends to objectivity, the breakdown is just about what you would expect. Those who do not go on the list will politick for the politicians they would have supported anyway. The rest? We'll see.


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