Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Media Management 101

I'm late (as usual) on commenting on the issue of Harper restricting reporters access from Cabinet meetings. Long and short of it, I don't think its a smart strategy.

Look, I understand Harper's view on this matter. These scrums between cabinet ministers and journalists, while sometimes informative, have always been a fertile occasion for a gaffe or inconsistency in the past. Something which Harper cannot afford in this minority government, as it would mean days and days of damage control, which in the end slows down the government process and is an easy way for the party to loose focus. With this technique, at least he can help keep his government keep their eye on the ball.

Second of all, we know that "photo ops" have not been kind to Harper. From his Afghanistan trip, the media kept talking about his waist size and his choice for soft drinks rather keeping it professional. So the media isn't exactly innocent on this matter. And it certainly raises cynicism about their bitching of wanting to "report the news". So the restriction on photo ops can be understandable as well.

However, I think in this case the negatives outweigh the positives. For starters, creating tension between the media and your administration is not the smartest way of delivering your message. Having a hostile media to deal with means that in the future they will not hesitate about reporting any minor missteps you make into a front-page controversy. Editors and columnists might also feel the rage of their co-workers which in turn leads to negative editorials.

And further more, not allowing the media to report on the cabinet meetings isn't exactly the best manner to show progress. It doesn't show people who are not political junkies out there that government is indeed getting down to business and work is being done. Had I not been a "political junkie" who follows the news on an hourly basis, I would have no idea that these cabinet meeting are going on in the first place...which would make me question "What is the government doing nowadays?" Making me completely unaware of any progress or action the government is making on certain legislation.

And thirdly, it tends to show that your not willing to handle tough questions in periods of difficulty. Which is very bad. As many people rate their leaders for their behavior and handling of matters in times of political crisis. Restricting access to the media in this case would just seem to cement the perception that your not willing to take the heat. (Making people wonder...if you don't want the stress, then why did you take this job in the first place).

So in conclusion, is it illegal? No. Is it understandable? In a way. Is the right way to reach out to voters? The negatives outweigh the positives in this case. Meaning no.

Although I don't think Harper or anyone else in his cabinet is restricting any access to the media overall, I haven't heard that complaint, but only that its restricting access to them at certain times.

A time which reporters see politicans more vulnerable.


At Wednesday, 29 March, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I am sympathetic to the comments above the fact remains it does not matter what Harper does or says the MSM in Canada will find fault because he is a Conservative. He could invite the MSM to join the cabinet meetings and the only message would be the cabinet is divided and Harper is still fat. So while it would be desirable to have the media onside it ain't going to happen so he might as well keep doing what he is doing. He will find a way to get his message out. The MSM are a bunch of whiners who don't like having to work to find their stories but would rather rely on photo ops and spin to develp their fictional stories.

At Wednesday, 29 March, 2006, Anonymous Alberta Girl said...

I read an article in the Edm. Journal today about this issue and down at the bottom in about paragraph 35 was a paragraph about PMSH having an open caucus meeting after which reporters were free to mingle and ask questions of any of the conservative members.

So where is the access being denied. Isn't this a better way of doing things than yelling and screaming out questions.

At Thursday, 15 July, 2010, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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