Harper Plans for Government-Run Media Center Exposed
Monday, October 15, 20071 Comment
Unlike his predecessors, who normally use the National Press Theatre for government news conferences, Harper has shunned the building, only turning up once for a surprise conference at the beginning of this month.
Why doesn't Harper like the Theatre? It's not just a matter of being camera shy. Since taking office, Harper's policy towards the media has become increasingly hostile. The trouble with the old Press Theatre is that proceedings there are moderated by the Parliamentary Press Gallery Association - a group made up of television and newspaper outlets - which forces a kind of accountability to the media that Harper has never really been too fond of.
In the new media center, the Harper government will be able to control which journalists and photographers are allowed past its security and who gets to ask questions. Additional plans to install cameras with media feeds suggest that government-employed camera operators will be filming proceedings (rather than journalists) and they will be providing the feed directly to television news outlets for use in their reports.
Harper's previous policy changes towards the media have included the withholding of announcements about the visits of heads of state and premiers, issuing official photographs of those meetings rather than allowing news photographers inside, and pre-screening the questions reporters plan to ask.
According to an article published in today's Toronto Star, one of the secret documents noted that the new media center would, "put in place robust physical and information security measures to protect the prime minister and cabinet."
Protection from whom? Is the PM that afraid of Canadian journalists and public opinion?
The answer would appear to be a resounding yes.