Last Tuesday, J.P. Antonacci of the Brant News and myself were invited to Brantford City Hall for a discussion with Mayor Chris Friel, CAO Ted Salisbury and solicitor Christopher Cooper regarding the boundary negotiations/discussions that had been occurring with the County of Brant.
That inspired a series of tweets when I returned to the office, since two others who tried to get into the meeting were not permitted entry.
Of note (to me anyway), the city only invited some media to attend. Someone I didn't recognize from @TwoRowTimes was not allowed in.
— Hugo Rodrigues (@EXPHugo) September 18, 2013
Unfortunately, I can’t embed the remainder of the conversation this tweet inspired because the @chrisfriel account is set to protected mode so its content can’t be embedded. The Two Row Times sent a correspondent to cover the meeting, though it wasn’t invited. An activist, erroneously claiming to be there on behalf of the Brant Advocate (who don’t cover events in that fashion) was also barred from the meeting.
The broader point, which I think I was able to make with the mayor, is the city should consider a media policy of some sort to provide some consistency with who it considers to be media and how it will interact with people who work in media. I suggested the City of Hamilton‘s policy as a starting point.
The policy includes, in part, a definition that city uses for “media.”
The City of Hamilton defines media as any print, radio, television or online media outlet. This includes national, regional, local, neighbourhood, community and ethnic media outlets, Online media refers to websites that publish news, investigative reports, analysis, commentary, events and/or general information.
While I don’t necessarily agree with the premise of having government define media in a democratic society, in this case it provides the city apparatus in Hamilton an opportunity to at least agree on who it considers “media” in its community. The policy then details how “media” are to be treated by the city, with the underlying flavour of not discriminating against any single one that meets the definition.
On the day of, Mayor Friel tweeted his suggestion that only the media who cover council meetings (ourselves and the Brant News) and usually send people to city pressers were “media.” That was followed by the suggestion there are only two “Brantford” based newsmedia. I rejected both those notions then as I do now.
An activist wearing the cloak of media has its own issues — particularly for the credibility and trustworthiness of that person to a broader audience — but the Two Row Times is a legitimate media outlet in this community. Its home may be Ohsweken, but it provides coverage of Brantford issues. Ditto the Advocate. Ditto RogersTV community station, even if the nightly First Local is Waterloo Region-based. Ditto CKPC (Jewel 92.1), even if its owners have left no one in their newsroom beyond anchors.
We’re not even into online-only media, which is nascent to non-existent in Brantford. Imagine if we had bloggers covering city hall? A media policy might help the city be a little clearer on these points. Or at least be consistent.