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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Blacklisted

I'm a huge fan of Danny Williams, but I was pretty disgusted to read at Townie Bastard's site that he has decided to "cut off" one of the local provincial-affairs reporters. No interviews or access to the premier for...well, goodness knows how long.

I definitely don't approve of any media strategy that ends with reporters being blacklisted. I worked with David Cochrane for a short time at CBC St. John's before I moved Up There, and I can't imagine that this will end well for Danny.

Reporters are paid to report the news. I've written a lot about responsible reporting, and I won't defend a journalist who's unethical, but David's a good reporter. He does some analysis, too, and this may be why Danny's upset with him. I honestly don't know what set him off: this little tiff over Andy Wells' stupid fundraiser seems like small potatoes. Maybe David really did screw up about something, but if so, I don't know what it was.

From time to time I will hear people talk about cutting one reporter or another off, usually in the context of national politics. I've never seen this done, so I admit I'm not clear on how it would work or how it could possibly benefit anyone. What, you just stop talking to the guy? How does that help? Do you do the same thing with non-journalists who criticise you, like advocacy groups and the opposition parties? Do you make all of the staff stop talking to the guy, too? How do you decide when it's a good time to start talking to him again? Do you just call him up and expect things to be hunky-dory all of a sudden?

This seems to be counter-productive. The only way to make sure a journalist understands your side of a story (whatever that might be) is to talk to him. Refusing to grant interviews only ensures that your critics will be the ones featured in the story. Not exactly the best plan for someone who feels like he's getting picked on.

Now, there are definitely times when it's a bad idea to talk to any reporter about a particular issue. This is not the same thing as shutting an individual journalist out, though. Those situations are usually time-limited and apply to all members of the public, not just reporters.

Do any readers have experience with this?

2 comments:

Jackie S said...

Yep, I have experienced this.

I was 7 and called my sister a poo-poo head. And then she stopped talking to me for ten whole minutes.

This is the same thing, right? Because that's what I told Danny when he asked for my PR advice...

Ferry Tales said...

I never heard about that. I'm disappointed.