PMO communications now doing its own audio and video releases

- December 3rd, 2009

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Communications departments in an political leaders office put out a lot of text press releases. But over the last several months, the Prime Minister's Office has also been distributing still photographs, photographs taken by the prime minister's official photograph.

Now, as Harper begins his first trip to China, the PMO communications department has added something new: audio and video releases to go along with the photo releases. That's a PMO photo on the left of Harper's arrival in China.

You can now listen, for instance, to an MP3 of the four-question press conference Prime Minister Stephen Harper held in Beijing after making remarks about his government's fourth quarter update to Canadians. You can watch video of Harper and his wife Laureen boarding the plane for China and getting off the plane in China.

Of course, independent journalists collect this audio and video as well. There would be little difference to our audio files and the audio files from the prime minister's office. But there is often quite a significant difference when it comes to pictures and, perhaps in the future, video. Journalists are often restricted in terms of their access to the prime minister while PMO communications staff are allowed to go places we are not. Later today, for example, Harper will meet President Hu Jintao. Just one still photographer and one television news camera crew will be allowed into that meeting. I suspect that the PMO videographer will be there but other journalists who wish to collect video for their organization's Web sites may not be allowed in.

Is this a good or a bad thing? On its own, I don't think it's either. It will be a bad thing, however, if journalists are unable to make their own visual record of the prime minister's visit in order to accommodate the visual record-taking of the prime minister's staff. I suppose it's in the interest of all political leaders (or business leaders, for that matter) to distribute their own audio-visual materials but a democracy is best served — as the prime minister said himself in a speech in Markham a few weeks ago — when an independent press is able to collect and distribute its own visual record as well.

Categories: Politics/Conservatives

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1 comment

  1. Anonymous says:

    Isn't state controlled news a characteristic of dictatorships?
    I wish I was as complacent as you seem to be about Harper's control/suppression of the news media. Stories, pictures, or video produced by his own production company will be nothing more than self-serving propaganda; nothing critical or embarrassing will ever be seen by ordinary Canadians.

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