Monday, May 25, 2009

How not to win media friends and influence people

Updated (6:45 p.m.) below...

There be some gems in this here Hill Times piece on excellent Conservative media strategery:
"I think that we have become so used to never hearing the Prime Minister speak at all on Parliament Hill and never have any opportunity to ask him questions that we've become used to it," said Canwest News Service Hill reporter Andrew Mayeda. "But it's kind of like the twilight zone situation; we have a Prime Minister who is more willing to talk to the U.S. media than he is to the national Canadian media, and voters will be the ultimate judge, but it seems pretty weird to me." (emphasis added)
Yes, and that U.S. favouritism is particularly ironic given the Conservatives' present advertising hobby. Andrew Mayeda's on a roll about Conservative media muzzling.

Also enjoyed the use of terms of endearment such as "these people," by the Press Gallery President:
The press gallery is trying to work with Mr. Teneycke and PMO officials to gain access to Cabinet ministers after Cabinet meetings.

Mr. Teneycke suggested the idea when he met with Ms. Buzzetti in March and the gallery followed up with a letter, but hasn't heard back from Mr. Teneycke.

The objective is to gain back media access to the third floor of Centre Block where Cabinet meets, said Ms. Buzzetti, adding that that "doesn't seem to be on the horizon with these people."

Mr. Teneycke declined to discuss media access with The Hill Times.
Access to cabinet ministers after meetings, what a concept and what a sad commentary on the fragility of some of the key underpinnings of Canadian democratic life when such opportunities are taken away, one by one, with no regard for the interest of the Canadian public. These little creeping behind the scenes increments of change for the worse under the Conservatives are hard to portray to the wider public, they come off as media carping, but it's clearly about much more than that. Accessibility, transparency, what kind of government do we want to have? Thematically it's all part of a bigger story to tell about the Conservatives.

Much more in the report, particularly on the subject matter of the PMO's penchant for off the record briefing sessions and media having adopted it as part of the landscape under this PMO, albeit with some conscientious objections noted. There's clearly chafing over it, however, and perhaps the wave of negative coverage of the ad campaign might indicate a sea change is a comin'.

Update (6:45 p.m.): Picking up on Mayeda's complaint about the PM's unavailability to Canadian media, here's an item from last week I just came across:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to Winnipeg yesterday.

But unless you work at the virology lab or bought a ticket to attend a private dinner for the Frontier Centre, you would have had absolutely no chance to hear from him.
...
The Conservatives have gone out of their way to attack Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff as an elitist. Harper is supposed to be a man of the people. He’s Tim Horton’s while Ignatieff is Starbucks.

But how elitist is it for the prime minister to breeze through town and only be available to an elite group while the rest of Manitoba – and Canada for that matter – gets the silent treatment?