Media

Mayor Bratina Likes Mayor Ford's Media Policy, Wants to See it in Hamilton

By Joey Coleman
Published November 01, 2011

As the City of Hamilton finalizes its new media policy, Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina revealed that he plans to include ideas in the policy given to him by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Mayor Ford is presently boycotting The Toronto Star and does not speak to many of Toronto's media outlets that he disagrees with.

Mayor Bratina's comments came last Tuesday on Hamilton radio station AM 900 CHML. He spoke on-air before his State of the City Address:

He [Mayor Ford] explained what his attitude toward was the media [sic], and that will probably be part of our communications strategy when we come out with that later on this year.

The City's media policy is under review at the request of Peggy Chapman, the Mayor's chief of staff, who stated on the Bill Kelly Show on May 25, 2011 that she desires to remove independent media from City Hall.

What I'm trying to bring in is a press gallery. What that means, and it's going to bother a few people... is I will recognize you and give you as much access to the mayor, as need be, or information that I have - and especially at council, if you have a boss. If you're a journalist that has a boss that I can complain to, if I think that information is incorrect. If you don't have that, it's, you know- how do we control, um, the information? I don't mean control like I want to control what's being said, but my first priority is the public. I would hope in media your first priority is the information to the public too. But that's not my responsibility. My responsibility is information coming from City Hall, to the public. And how do we get that?

Ms. Chapman's statements led a number of Hamilton's local independent media outlets to issue a joint declaration calling for press freedoms at City Hall.

The joint statement by local community media was signed by The Hamiltonian publisher Teresa DiFalco, RTH associate editor Adrian Duyzer, Urbanicity editor and publisher Martinus Geleynse, blogger Matt Jelly, H Magazine publisher Dave Kuruc, RTH editor Ryan McGreal, CFMU 93.3 program director James Tennant, community organizer Matt Thompson and myself.

The Hamilton Spectator published the full statement on their website and expressed their own concerns about the proposal.

The City Manager Chris Murray took control of the issue after the joint statement, stating that city staff would be reviewing the policy and independent media would be consulted during the process.

That consultation has yet to occur.

Mayor Bratina's embrace of the Mayor Ford school of media relations directly contradicts Mayor Bratina's statement during the media policy discussion following the joint statement.

In a June 10, 2011 email, Mayor Bratina wrote:

One of my priorities as Mayor has been to bring more information to the public, not less. I was asked the day after the election what my first priority was, and answered "live streaming of all committee and Council meetings". That was accomplished within two months of my taking office.

This is important because media often picks and chooses what stories to cover and what angle to take. The closer the public can get to the daily business of their Council, whether by streaming, requests for information, broader and more thorough coverage through media, including blogs, etc., the better.

The offices of Mayor and City Manager were the first to publicly support the concept of "Open Data". We are now reviewing all matters related to communications and public information. The public will have an opportunity to give input, and final decisions will be in the hands of Council."

At present, the policy review is awaiting the hiring of a new communications manager in the City Manager's Office. The new communications manager will have the final say on the policy before it is presented to City Council.

This was first published on Joey's blog.

Joey Coleman covers Hamilton Civic Affairs.

Read more of his work at The Public Record, or follow him on Twitter @JoeyColeman.

20 Comments

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted November 01, 2011 at 07:00:46

Recently, I've become aware of Calgary's mayor, Naheed Nenshi.

http://calgarymayor.ca/

I especially encourage those who want to contrast styles of not only management and leadership but deportment to take a look at this video:

http://www.youtube.com/v/tuYdd920O3U&...

I'm not suggesting you watch it in its entirety. FF to the portions where Mayor Nenshi is front-and-centre. For me it was an eye-opening experience.

And yes, I featured the video on the Town Halls Hamilton site: http://townhallshamilton.blogspot.com/20...

(Further, I do believe that we should have our own parallel initiative to Calgary's: '3 Things for Hamilton'.)

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-11-01 07:01:49

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 01, 2011 at 08:18:32 in reply to Comment 70969

Related:

Naheed started spreading his message through online media, and little town halls in local pubs, and every venue he could find. The source of his power has been a one-two punch of considerable media savvy (especially social media) and a message worth spreading. Combine this with an incredible work ethic, and the die seemed to have been cast.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-11-01 08:20:28

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted November 01, 2011 at 08:35:29 in reply to Comment 70970

Agreed. Except there's one primary factor that outweighs everything:

The man is all there. He's present.

If anyone takes the time to watch the '3 Things for Calgary' launch video...it's more than an hour long...both speakers (the Mayor and Dave Meslin) have something that so many in this city simply don't possess: presence, insight and the ability to communicate effectively. (Oh, and they have visions. Silly me for forgetting that aspect...)

The medium may indeed be the message, but I'll go back to a longstanding belief: in order for authentic exchanges to take place, ultimately you have to breathing the same air.

For those who wrap their beliefs around technology, I'm obliged to point out that we weren't 'designed' with modems. We're part of the animal kingdom and all the basic rules apply, like it or not.

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-11-01 08:42:21

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted November 01, 2011 at 09:27:50 in reply to Comment 70971

...so many in this city simply don't possess: presence, insight and the ability to communicate effectively

And now our mayor is the leader of this pact.

Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2011-11-01 09:47:49

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted November 01, 2011 at 12:28:41

FYI The Hamiltonian has published a statement from Peggy Chapman in response to this piece:

I am not able to speak in any depth about the City of Hamilton's ongoing communications report that should come forward this year. I am working with staff standards, and including political and media advice from national and international governments and media outlets to form a standard for the Mayor's Office. Staff must ensure their own standards, but I can say Mayor Bratina's interests are, and I quote him, "My issue is not about withholding information. It is about ensuring the public is properly informed."

Mayor Bratina has always been dedicated to full access to all information deserving of the public as evidenced by his efforts to expedite live-streaming of City Hall meetings. On many occasions accurate information won't come from a quote from a politician, but from the due diligence done by responsible journalists. The Mayor's confidence in the process of municipal governance is based in large part on the professionalism of our staff. In terms of media access, an accounting will show that he has responded to almost every request for an interview or comment, properly posed. Sometimes the response is "no comment", which is a valid response. The Mayor's priority in terms of communications is that residents and taxpayers are properly informed and their interests protected. This may not accommodate a reporter's wish to include the Mayor in their story, but not every issue requires comments attributed to the Mayor.

I look forward to your input when my own report becomes hands on with media.

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By deserving (anonymous) | Posted November 01, 2011 at 13:31:48

Well I'm glad peggy and bobby are here to tell us what we "deserve" to know about (and also, presumably, what we don't)

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted November 01, 2011 at 13:40:23

Ryan, Joey and others, her report will be sent to your bosses. Make sure you check with them...

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted November 01, 2011 at 15:51:57

Freedom of the press, but only if you own a press.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 01, 2011 at 16:56:06

So, I'm guessing our mayor doesn't look too fondly on the small business start-ups coming out of the Cossart Exchange and Innovation Park??
You're a nobody unless you have a boss?? Tell that to the 2.6 million self-employed folks in Canada: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/sbrp-rppe.n...

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By -Hammer- (registered) | Posted November 01, 2011 at 17:17:59

So....in other words the Mayor only wants to talk to news sources that favor his political agenda. I really wish that any politician who didn't agree with the fairness doctrine wasn't allowed to run for office.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted November 01, 2011 at 17:35:39 in reply to Comment 70990

I really wish that any politician who didn't agree with the fairness doctrine wasn't allowed to run for office.

Interesting. I agree. However...

I was having a conversation today with a neighbourhood advocate and during the discussion we were talking about voter turnout and their discretionary habits; it's my belief that the bulk of the 'problem' in local politics is that a) only four out every ten people vote, and b) that of these, 60% use 'name recognition' as the primary factor in doing so.

Further, not only is the 'problem' us...but until we begin making headway on it, we really don't have much right to demand 'better candidates'.

We really do get the government we deserve.

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-11-01 17:36:59

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By DanielRodrigues (registered) - website | Posted November 01, 2011 at 17:53:28

I have taken a bit of a peripheral role in this matter, as I'm not really sure why the Mayor and Ms. Chapman are concerned about 'fringe' journalists taking an opposing view to any information which may seep from City Hall.

The Mayor didn't take any time to respond to one of my posts on this site (http://raisethehammer.org/article/1228/one_hit_wonders_in_hamilton_politics) by sending me an email shown below as received:

Mr Rodrigues, Statements you have made publicly do not represent the truth.

"Not known as a team player" is not relected by the voting record of Council, or the projects of mine which were supported in many cases unanimously. The final motion passed by the current Council was my initiative for the Pearl Company. You seem to have low regard for me personally, judging ny your comments, but you should at least stick to facts if you are going to participate as you do in the public realm and value your reputation. Bob Bratina

Now I don't have a boss (at least when it comes to posting on either my site or this site), and I do try to be as objective as I can, and as the email states above, there appears to be some sort of method of communicating displeasure. I would assume that if there are individuals who choose to write inaccuracies would get a similar missive from His Worship...and at the very least lose their "reputation" as a provider of information.

Just for the record, I did make a few attempts to chat with His Worship to clarify his concern that I may hold "low regard" for him, but was summarily dismissed without any response.

In the meantime, I guess Ms. Chapman will be racking up some serious Air Miles scoping out other "international governments" and their media policies. Here's hoping we all get to see her cache of souveniers!!

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By TnT (registered) | Posted November 02, 2011 at 08:11:06

I am really having trouble with this. I don't understand what the outrage is from the Mayor's office. It seems to all flow back to the Joey Coleman/Peggy Chapman feud. Which to my untrained eye looks one-sided. From what I've read, Joey Coleman is a journalist beyond reproach.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted November 02, 2011 at 08:34:32

Well with yesterdays news that the CBC is coming to town Bratina saying he likes anything to do with Rob Ford simply pins a big bullseye on his chest. Of course Marg Delahunty will have to wait outside CHML to find him.

If any independent journalist need a boss, Im available, supremely qualified for a non thinking mid management position.

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By jason (registered) | Posted November 02, 2011 at 09:31:20

I'm thinking we should change Ryan's title to 'boss' instead of 'editor'. Bingo. Problem solved.
Maybe Ryan can be Joey's boss and Joey can be Ryan's boss. We'll even put their names on letterhead to make it look really official.

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By Radio Face (anonymous) | Posted November 02, 2011 at 10:12:24

In yesterday's Toronto Star:

Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee has unanimously shelved a motion that would have stopped Ford and his staff from withholding official communications from media outlets they don’t like.

Councillor Adam Vaughan’s “free press and democracy” motion would have prohibited city employees and politicians from excluding any specific journalist or news outlet from any “media conference,” “media event” or news release.

Vaughan told executive committee members that his motion was not specifically about Ford’s relations with the Star. Ford’s office does not send releases or notices of events to the newspaper, rarely answers questions from it, and has excluded its reporters from background briefings.

Ford started to freeze out the Star as a mayoral candidate in July 2010 after it published a story about a confrontation between him and a high school football player he was coaching. Ford says the article was false, and he seeks a front-page apology.

“Politicians should not regulate the media, period,” said Vaughan, a former TV reporter. “It’s an issue of the free press and the minute you have the government deciding who is and is not a legitimate journalist, you no longer have a free press ... ”

“To pick and choose who we wish to participate in a free and open debate, that, I put to you, is reprehensible.”

http://www.thestar.com/news/article/1079722--ford-allies-shelve-free-press-motion

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted November 02, 2011 at 16:45:10 in reply to Comment 70996

Ryan is married, I think that mean he has a boss.

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By propaganda machine (anonymous) | Posted November 03, 2011 at 09:53:42

look at bob's wiki page - methinks it needs to be edited to reflect reality
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Bratina

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By JonC (registered) | Posted November 05, 2011 at 08:38:39 in reply to Comment 70996

Just show up for the next council session wearing a shirt that says "BOSS".

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By Cityjoe (anonymous) | Posted November 07, 2011 at 00:43:19

Quote:"Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee has unanimously shelved a motion that would have stopped Ford and his staff from withholding official communications from media outlets they don’t like."
Bad!
But on the lighter side, at least The Big Edsel isn't releasing policy on a radio program.

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