The media

Last night at Regional Council, when discussing the report from Huberman about the hiring process for the CAO, Niagara Falls councillor Bob Gale said council reacted to Grant LaFleche’s story and that “maybe we shouldn’t pay attention to Grant LaFleche” and then said that maybe council should “do something about Grant LaFleche,” before saying “that wouldn’t happen.”

It was (yet another) shocking display.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I have always – at least to date 🙂 – had a positive relationship with the media. I used to work in public relations and government relations as well as in municipal government, and I worked closely with the media as an ally to communicate more clearly with the public.

I have also been a regular guest on 610CKTB for the past several years and, until I filed my nomination papers and took a leave, I was a regular columnist for the St. Catharines Standard.

Sure, in my former role in municipal government, there were times when things would happen at Council or in the community that we hoped the media wouldn’t pick up and run with, but we saw their job for what it was: to keep elected officials (and staff) accountable and to report to the public.

And we didn’t see this as a bad thing.

In fact, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a helpful conversation with a journalist (and, yes, sometimes even Grant LaFleche) who was just trying to report the facts of a story and make it clear and accessible to readers or listeners.

This term of Regional Council has had an ongoing, terrible relationship with the media.

There have been several stories and special investigations for which several members of this Council, including the Chair and some members from St. Catharines, have declined requests for interviews. What they don’t seem to understand when they do this is that the story will almost always still get published or go to air, but they won’t have had an opportunity to speak to their side of the story.

Instead, journalists work harder (including consulting with their own lawyers) to ensure the side they do have is corroborated by as many sources as possible before they go to print or air, and that’s the story.

You can’t holler about the media not reporting balanced stories if you won’t work with them to provide that balance that you seek.

At the end of the day, this Council has created their own problem with the media. They refuse to speak when asked. They attack the media in Council Chambers, through other media outlets, and on social media. Ultimately, they don’t understand what their relationship with the media should be.

It’s time to Reset the Region.

PS: Maybe not so ironically, this came through my e-mail as I was writing this blog post:

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