communications

Wed, 2015-03-04 13:33Sean Holman
Sean Holman's picture

When Journalists Get Mad

I’m mad as Hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”

That was how some journalists seemed to respond last week to an open letter I wrote about how government communications staff are helping to kill democracy.

But, if we want to save it, we’re going to need to do more than just throw open our windows, stick our heads out and yell about the non-answers we often get from those spin doctors.

In that letter, which was published in J-Source, The Tyee, DeSmog Canada and the Yukon News, I wrote about how those non-answers are actually a refusal to “provide the public with information. And if the public doesn’t know what their government is actually doing, it can continue doing things the public wouldn’t want it to do.”

Those words were shared on Facebook and retweeted hundreds of times, with one reporter in the Yukon stating, “I think it’s fair to say the frustration levels of journalists in this country are rising.”

Mon, 2015-02-23 11:03Sean Holman
Sean Holman's picture

The Tyranny of the Talking Point

Dear government spin doctor,

I am working on a story about how the job you’re doing is helping to kill Canada’s democracy.

I know that your role, as a so-called communications professional, is to put the best spin on what the government is or isn’t doing.

That means you often don’t respond the questions I ask, you help elected officials do the same thing and you won’t let me talk to those who actually have the answers.

While this may work out very well for you, it doesn’t work out so well for my audience who, by the way, are taxpayers, voters and citizens.

So your refusal to provide me with information is actually a refusal to provide the public with information.

And if the public doesn’t know what their government is actually doing, it can continue doing things the public wouldn’t want it to do.

That just doesn’t seem very democratic to me. Does it seem democratic to you?

Fri, 2013-07-05 09:24Indra Das
Indra Das's picture

Harper Government 'Extrapolated' Public Reaction Before Cutting Millions From Environment Canada Budget

Prime Minister Stephen Harper

Instead of consulting with the Canadian public before cutting millions in green spending at Environment Canada, the Harper government consulted with communications strategists who helped gauge potential public reactions to the budget cuts.

Mike De Souza writes for Postmedia News, that according to “internal briefing documents” released through access to information legislation, the “Harper government included communications strategists in closed-door discussions that led to an estimated $60 million in cuts at Environment Canada in the 2012 federal budget.”

“Strategists from the communication branch were involved in Environment Canada's deliberations on its contribution to the deficit action reduction plan from the beginning,” said the records, which were labelled “secret advice to the minister.” The briefing documents, containing up to 500 pages, were prepared for Environment Canada Deputy Minister Bob Hamilton, after he replaced Paul Boothe in summer 2012.

Thu, 2013-02-14 11:43Carol Linnitt
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Science Silenced: US Scientist Caught in Canadian Muzzle

What a difference a decade makes - especially when it comes to government-directed communications policies regarding science, and especially when you're in Canada. 

In 2003 a Canadian-American research collaboration, involving scientists from US universities and Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), began in the Eastern Arctic to track oceanic conditions and ice flow in the Nares Strait.

Wed, 2013-02-13 09:14Guest
Guest's picture

There's Something Fishy with New DFO Communications Policy

This article was written by Michael Harris and originally published on iPolitics.

The iPolitics story by Michael Harris published on February 7th, 2013 is untrue. There have been no changes to the Department’s publication policy.”

These words landed on my computer screen like a mortar shell after I wrote a piece outlining disturbing changes to DFO’s publication policy.

The statement, issued by DFO communications staffer Melanie Carkner, went on to list all the ways the department disseminates information — none of which were at issue in my column.

Fri, 2013-01-25 05:00Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt's picture

Canadian Scientists Must Speak Out Despite Consequence, Says Andrew Weaver

If people don’t speak out there will never be any change,” says the University of Victoria’s award-winning climate scientist Andrew Weaver. 

And the need for change in Canada, says Weaver, has never been more pressing.

“We have a crisis in Canada. That crisis is in terms of the development of information and the need for science to inform decision-making. We have replaced that with an ideological approach to decision-making, the selective use of whatever can be found to justify [policy decisions], and the suppression of scientific voices and science itself in terms of informing the development of that policy.”
 
Sat, 2013-01-19 07:00Jim Hoggan
Jim Hoggan's picture

Communicating for Change: Anthony Leiserowitz on Climate Change Psychology

When it comes to climate change, Yale's Anthony Leiserowitz says, “you almost couldn't design a problem that is a worse fit with our underlying psychology”; an insight that is all too apparent. 

In spite of the dramatic increase in extreme weather events and growing scientific concern, climate change is seldom mentioned by politicians, business leaders or the news media in Canada and the US. While public concern is on the rise, public pressure to fix the problem is flagging. 

In this recent interview, Bill Moyers asks Leiserowitz to explain the state of public opinion surrounding climate change and what might be done to improve climate change communications.

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