DND losing media officers due to political micromanaging

The Ottawa Citizen has obtained a report from DND citing high turnover in its public affairs officers, resulting in more junior officers having to assume senior duties, with reduced effectiveness. If so, it’s a shame. Through personal experience I’m met a few of the Army public affairs officers three years ago, and they were doing an extremely good job in an extremely difficult situation: maintaining a good reputation for the army in the midst of a complex, unpopular war.


Kevin Carle, a former senior public affairs officer, said he isn’t surprised by the exodus and reports of poor morale. “With this particular government there is micromanagement,” said Carle, who retired as a navy captain in 2008. “It is absolute control of information so public affairs officers are really frustrated.”

Sept. 25 2011

Harper in a bubble: media care, does anyone else

Some whining from the  press corps following the Harper campaign that they’re only allowed five questions, and the campaign is so tightly controlled it may as well be done in a studio. Paul Wells notes though that this isn’t  affecting the Tory lead nor the general public, who generally are turned off anyway on the fourth election in seven years, with several important provincial elections coming up. Maybe in May we’ll pay attention, when it comes time to vote; Geff Simpson in today’s Globe notes that we have two wars ongoing, serious trade disputes with Europe and a gazillion dollar warplane acquisition, yet not of this is coming up in the campaign, which is seemingly focusing on whicharty can best bribe us with our own money. Thanks to Tyler McMurchy for this one.

MacLean’s, April 6 2011

Harper gov’t continues to muzzle federal scientists

The cold, dead hand of Harper overcontrol continues to throttle scientific right of expression. This right is based on the principle that scientists should share information so that all can learn. While it’s fairly normal for most agencies to have a central PR function, this seems to be a case of taking it to extremes.

CTV, Sept. 19 2010

World media complain about Obama’s overcontrol

Well, Obama got a pretty easy ride from media during the campaign, but now that he’s president, he’s showing Harperish control freak  behavior toward media. After the recent nuclear summit, media from around the globe complained about lack of access to information and Obama’s control tactics. Wonder what effect this will have on his popularity ratings? Harper’s control tactics have kept him stuck in a minority position for five years, so it doesn’t look to good for Obama. Most politicians are wary of media, but smart ones like Kennedy and Reagan used their considerable personal charm to get them on side.

Washington Post, April 14, 2010

Harper and the media, continued

Good summary from Ryerson Review of Journalism about Harper’s ongoing attempts to muzzle, suppress, control, ignore the media. I wonder if anyone’s told him that an improved relationship with media might lead to an improved relationship with the voters, which might lead to the majority he’s failed to get three times.

Ryerson Review of Journalism, 24 November 2009


Harper praises press freedom, then ducks press

Some days Stgephen Harper is beyond irony. yesterday he was speaking at a banquet of the National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada, singing the praises of Canadian media freedom while decrying the restrictions placed on media by places like China. Bravo Prime Minister! Then what does he do? He runs out behind the black curtain behind him to avoid actually talking to the press. Boo Prime Minister! Actually, there’s nothing wrong or unusual about Prime Ministers being wary to the point of hateful to media; better Prime Ministers than Harper (Pearson, Trudeau, Mulroney) were openlyl disdainful to media, but at least they were honest about it (Trudeau was so frustrated at his government’s inability to communicate through the media that he set up an agency called Information Canada that could provide direct information from government to the people, without the intermediation of media. The media immediately dubbed it PropCan.)

CTV, Nov. 22 2009

CBC tracking federal Ministers’ refusal to be on The Current

CBC is making a big deal about the number of times Harper’s Ministers decline to go on The Current. As usual, the CBC seem to feel it has a God-given right to call in a Cabinet minister or other guest whenever it wants to (I once had a reporter ask me, seriously, to call a physician out of heart transplant surgery because he, the reporter, was on a deadline. I declined.) Anyhoo, it’s a good long read, but the best part is the comment at the end: the CBC brass themselves rarely venture out to speak to the media, and only do so under tight conditions.

J-Source, Nov. 17

Ottawa announces “new” funding for media

Actually, it just seems to be a re-announcement of funding for new media, combining two existing programs into one. What I find interesting about this though is how it conflicts with the federal comments two posts down, in which the Finance Minister says the government is not going into the business of subsidizing media. And I thought these guys had a centralized, c0-ordinated communications system set up just so Cabinet Ministers wouldn’t conflict with each other publicly.

CTV, March 9 2009

Media goodies in federal budget

In what’s being termed a scattershot approach to funding, the feds have promised funding for media in the following areas:

  • Providing $30 million over the next two years to support continued access to Canadian magazines and community newspapers.
  • Providing $28.6 milion over the next two years to the Canadian New Media Fund and $14.3 million annually thereafter.
  • Providing the Canadian Television Fund with $200 million in funding over the next two years.

What this means exactly will be the next issue: how does $30 million improve access to Canadian magazines, what strings/conditions are going to be on the New Media and Television Funds? Stay tuned.

P. 25, Canada’s Economic Plan, Jan. 27 2009

Guidelines for off the record interviews by the feds

Prime Minister Harper’s communications director, Kory Teneycke, sets out some guidelines for the conduct of off-the-record interviews by his office. This is fairly standard procedure in briefing reporters or providing background information, often done not by politicians but by bureaucrats who traditionally are faceless (but not voiceless) to the media.

davidakin, Nov. 21