Calgary Herald columnist Jeremy Klaszus writes:
"In the age of smartphones and social media, the e-mail interview has become the bane of Canadian journalism.
speaking, there is no such thing as an e-mail interview. An interview
is a conversation. A reporter asks questions, listens, and asks further
questions based on the answers he or she hears. It's a fluid process
that requires real, human, audible voices.
"But under Prime
Minister Stephen Harper, the federal government regards the spoken word
method (it's called 'reporting') as antiquated. Federal communications
staff, once called spokespeople, shy away from speaking to journalists.
They prefer, or are forced, to do everything by e-mail.
common experience for Canadian journalists. You phone a federal
department with a few simple questions. A so-called spokesperson won't
give answers, but asks for your e-mail address, or worse, asks you to
e-mail your questions. You do so, and wait. Your e-mail is sent through
who knows how many offices in Ottawa. You keep waiting. Finally, right
before deadline, you get an e-mail with a few carefully crafted lines in
response to your query.
"The reporter is encouraged to attribute
the scripted lines to a spokes-person. This is presented as an
acceptable substitute for an interview.
"Here's where journalists
should simply say "no" and refuse to play ball. In fact, they should
refuse to even give their e-mail addresses in the first place, demanding
that everything happen by phone or in person. The e-mail procedure is a
joke, de-basing journalists and readers alike. There's usually no time
for followup questions; dodged questions remain dodged, weak
explanations go unchallenged. Everyone loses, except for the control
freak overseeing this bizarre operation. . . ."
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