Best communication is no communication?
The tale of two communications strategies, one working, one not, is in the newest issue of the Hill Times, (access obtained via National Newswatch.)
Journalists may not like the way Prime Minister Stephen Harper slips in and out the back door of the Commons, avoids scrums and news conferences and the like, but it's working, says the Hill Times. More discouraging, for fans of openness and transparency, is Tim Naumetz's observation that the media has been collectively worn down.
Gallery President Helene Buzzetti says the struggle came to be too draining, a distraction from work, and there has only been one tentative exchange with Harper's new communications director, John Williamson. Nothing has come of it so far. Outside Ottawa, Harper most often arranges his news conferences at venues packed with party members, who usually applaud his remarks and occasionally express disapproval at reporters' questions. Favourable PMO photos of Harper now arrive at media inboxes across the country on almost a daily basis. Gallery veterans are convinced Soudas has a black list, journalists who won't be recognized for questions.
Nelson Wiseman, a prominent commentator and political scientist at the University of Toronto, says the press gallery and the media have caved. "Why are you putting up with these shenanigans?" the feisty Wiseman asks. "I thought the media was going to be a bit tougher."
Meanwhile, the same paper said that the top job for Peter Donolo, who begins work officially today tomorrow as chief of staff to Michael Ignatieff, is to "sharpen the message and toughen up."
One big question mark is hanging today over the Liberals and communication, in fact - who is going to be the new director of communications, now that Jill Fairbrother is gone? Rumours are rife, but anyone with solid information is most welcome to send it this way....
Of course, given the success of the Prime Minister's communications approach, maybe the Liberals' winning strategy is merely to disappear and never be heard from again.