Vernon News

HELSTON: Why I didn't go to your government press event

Charlotte Helston is the Vernon reporter for InfoNews.

As a journalist, I have the pleasure of dealing with government communications on a fairly frequent basis. You might not notice that because quite often, government officials are not quoted in my stories. Believe me, it’s not for lack of trying.

Either they didn’t call me back by deadline, they didn’t call at all, or they sent me a useless email statement that avoided every single one of my questions. I get better and more direct and courteous responses from people and organizations that don’t pay a designated entity to be available for media calls and to facilitate interviews (i.e. a communications officer.)

The only time I’m not being bounced around between communications people and staved off with emails is when a press event is happening. This week, for example, I was invited to attend a Ministry of Forests event described only as a “significant announcement related to community wildfire protection” and “something that will be of interest to your readers.”

Suddenly, I was their best friend. I got not one but two emails, and even a follow up phone call—a PHONE CALL! Do you know how hard those are to get?

I can only imagine the Ministry’s communications staff spent the day phoning all the local media to remind them of this special, not to be missed event. I’d like to say I felt special. Valued, even. But it just made me feel used.

I’m sick and tired of being phoned up to come running with my notepad and camera when the government decides to give money away. Feeding government PR to the public is not what I signed on for. My job is to ask the tough questions about subjects you don’t buy cake and balloons for.

Is it so much to ask, government relations, for you to provide me with the same attention you did this week with your big funding announcement the next time I request information or an interview? Because it’s not just me you’re snubbing. It’s this province’s residents, and they deserve better.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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