Journalism School Chief Condemns City Media blacklist

Journalism School Chief Condemns City Media blacklist
Posted on October 9, 2013 | Joe Banks | Written on October 9, 2013
Comments
Letter type:
Open

Publisher

Publisher:
The Bulldog

I understand that the blog Bulldog Ottawa, managed by former Ottawa Citizen editor Ken Gray, has been cut off from the timely dissemination of press releases and other communications from the media office at the City of Ottawa. That’s wrong on too many levels.

Bulldog Ottawa is owned and operated by a Citizen newspaper veteran, Ken Gray, who is doing nothing more than trying to operate a media business. Yes, he routinely criticizes the mayor, council and bureaucrats, but so what? That’s the job of critics in the media and in opposition, and yes, other councillors.

I for one is glad he is among the few working hard to keep our local government honest and efficient. His ability to do this is being obstructed by an arbitrary, seemingly vengeful, decision by somebody at the city. I’d sure like to know who that somebody is, because he or she has grossly overstepped their mandate.

Even if the city deems Bulldog Ottawa a blog, what does that matter? As a taxpayer, I don’t like seeing my city government in the business of cherry-picking who is, and who is not a media company (especially now, with new models entering the media marketplace regularly). That’s not its job, and besides, it’s contrary to the Charter’s freedom of the press provisions, and speaks to a step, however slight, toward mean-spirited, police-state control.

Given his history as an editor and commentator in this city, Mr. Gray deserves every courtesy extended to other media, traditional or otherwise, whatever bureaucrats or politicians may think of him or Bulldog Ottawa.

Joe Banks
Coordinator/Professor, Journalism
Algonquin College

 

Letter Response

Subject: RE: City Press Releases

Good afternoon,

I would like to provide some clarity regarding the City’s dissemination of media products. Corporate Communications is currently working with ServiceOttawa to develop an enhanced newsroom on Ottawa.ca. This will go live soon. As part of this improvement plan, we will no longer be managing a media list. We will be informing all media outlets that information will be shared via our RSS feed. This will require a one-time sign in process and will be open to everyone. We believe that this will better address the rapidly changing communications environment.

Please note that the RSS feed currently distributes all media products. Communications staff are in the process of encouraging people to begin the transition by signing up for the RSS feed now. We believe that this new process facilitates equal access in a timely manner to everyone interested in City news and events. It also will eliminate the requirement for the City to maintain an email list which is labour intensive and can be better managed electronically. In addition, all media products are posted on Ottawa.ca to ensure access to anyone who does not have access to an RSS feed.

Mr. Gray was invited to sign up for this service so that he would receive all media products as they become available.

We are committed to transparency and this open system will align to that goal. The protocol for accessing media products will be posted to ensure a common understanding.

I trust this addresses your concerns. Please feel free to contact me should you wish to discuss further.

Best Regards,

Lisa

Lisa Allaire
Chief, Corporate Communications

About The Author

My career as an Ontario rural and suburban community newspaper reporter, photographer, editor, publisher, general manager and journalism instructor began in May 1978. After graduating from journalism school with an... More

Comments

Great letter Joe, thanks for sharing!

While Lisa Allaire addressed how Ken and others can get the City's press releases in the future, her response doesn't address the act of removing Ken Gray from the City's press list, something that shouldn't ever happen.

I am finding the clamping down on access to information by the city disturbing. Frankly, even if blogs like Eric Darwin's and Vicky Smallman's, which are clearly blogs and not press sites, unlike Bulldog (which is certainly press), ask for press releases. What is the issue with
emailing them? They might get public information?

comments powered by Disqus