May 12, 2014

DFO ‘Wins’ Code of Silence Award from Canadian Journalists

Let me preface the following by saying that for many years I've volunteered with many excellent DFO staff, and it saddens me that they are so hamstrung by Harper's minders in Ottawa. Here's yet another ludicrous example:

VANCOUVER, May 11, 2014 /CNW/ - Who would have thought a routine question on the salmon fishery on Vancouver Island would require navigating the hoops and weirs of the federal government?

Yet when a journalist working in Port Alberni asked, "How many Chinook salmon do you require for your annual egg take?" the answer would take four days and the assistance (sic) of a communications staffer over 4,500 kilometres away in Ottawa. To show how ridiculous this obstructive delay was, this is information Robertson Creek Hatchery's manager and interpretive staff members routinely share with visitors from local schools and youth groups.

The lockdown on that elusive number was implemented when the answer was prefaced by the journalist identifying himself and that he worked for a media outlet. It's symptomatic of the situation journalists working across Canada face whenever they attempt to interact with government staffers working in their local communities. For this reason, the CAJ awards its annual Code of Silence to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. . .

Read the entire press release here.

This obsessive centralized control is not only silly and anti-democratic, it's also a massive waste of taxpayer dollars. Can you imagine how many staff hours were devoted to this insane exercise?

For an example of how to do it right, simply look to our neighbours to the south.

Here are media guidelines for NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) staff:

Fundamental Research Communications

  • DAO 219-1 explicitly allows researchers to publicly discuss the results of basic or applied research in science or engineering - termed "Fundamental Research Communications" -- without prior approval from NOAA's Office of Communications. This includes media interviews.
  • In these discussions or interviews, you may draw scientific conclusions from your research. If your conclusion could be misunderstood as an official NOAA position when it is not, you should say that it is your individual conclusion and not the view of the Department or NOAA.
  • You are encouraged, but not required, to use your public affairs specialist to facilitate interviews. If a member of the media requests an interview on a Fundamental Research Communication through public affairs, and you agree, the Communications Office will facilitate the interview.

Media Interviews

  • You are no longer required to submit anticipated questions and answers prior to media interviews unless requested to do so by public affairs.

The Canadian federal government's stance is akin to that of a totalitarian system.

Posted by Paul at May 12, 2014 10:32 AM