City Manager to Clarify Media Policy Review

By Ryan McGreal
Published June 03, 2011

Early next week, City Manager Chris Murray will issue a statement to outline the objectives and timelines of the City's planned media policy review.

In an email to the signatories of this week's joint statement on local media access to City Hall, communications officer Debbie Spence confirmed that Murray "will clarify the objectives of reviewing and updating the current Media Relations Policy and provide some details regarding the timelines and opportunities for input."

Spence, who is the communications officer for the City's Planning and Economic Development Department, will oversee the policy review, gather input from City staff and the community and draft the revised policy.

The current policy, which is dated May 2005, is available online [PDF format]. It states that the purpose of the policy is "to ensure that the City of Hamilton:

  • Provides timely and accurate responses to media inquiries
  • Makes available the most appropriate spokesperson based on accountability and responsibility
  • Conducts media relations in a manner that is objective, understandable, open and transparent within the law

In an interview on the Bill Kelly show on 900 CHML last week, Peggy Chapman, Mayor Bob Bratina's chief of staff, said she wants to establish a press gallery and that she 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."

You can watch the video clip with Chapman's full statement on in a segment of For The Record on Cable 14's YouTube channel:

You can jump right to Chapman's comments at 5:23 into the clip.

Chapman is a political appointee who reports directly to Mayor Bratina. The joint statement, which was endorsed by RTH editor Ryan McGreal and RTH associate editor Adrian Duyzer among several local journalists, bloggers and engaged citizens, expressed the wish that a revised policy should "not allow political staff to unduly influence the free flow of information at City Hall".

Earlier today, Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla sent an email to The Hamiltonian in support of open communication:

I treat all inquiries equally and I encourage more citizens to be engaged in the political process. Blogs are more relevant today than ever before and I believe they are here to stay and I welcome them regardless of what some people might be suggesting.

The email was in response to a query from The Hamiltonian about the controversy over the proposed media review.

Also in city communications news: Dalia El-Farra, communications officer for the City Manager's office, resigned this week and just confirmed that today is her last day of employment with the City.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted June 03, 2011 at 15:14:02

Ms. El-Farra was the most supportive City Staff member when I was live-streaming City Council meetings.

Without her support, the livestreams would not have occurred.

Most people have never heard of her, but you have seen her positive impact upon our city.

I wish her the best of luck in her future endeavours.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 03, 2011 at 15:44:56

she 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."

I get a kick out of this line. Ummm, if the information is incorrect, wouldn't that be the fault of the person giving it out??

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By MediaWatch (anonymous) | Posted June 03, 2011 at 16:04:23

The talented Chris Murray called on to rescue the political class once again (or in this case, the stand in for the politico)!!

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By z jones (registered) | Posted June 03, 2011 at 16:06:05 in reply to Comment 64545

That's why they pay him the big bucks.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 03, 2011 at 20:58:05 in reply to Comment 64546

He probably never thought he'd see the day where he had to intervene to prevent a Chinese style information clampdown.

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By Lumpadoo (anonymous) | Posted June 03, 2011 at 22:17:31

Hey those opinionators were entertaining.

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By Peter (anonymous) | Posted June 04, 2011 at 07:27:03 in reply to Comment 64562

^Cable 14 is the only Hamilton TV station worth watching. The Opinionators is great...even with DiIanni at the helm.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted June 04, 2011 at 22:02:42

I feel that Lorne Lieberman's comments were rude and unproductive. Did I misunderstood or did he equate Ryan McGreal, Joey Coleman, et al as just people with Facebook accounts? Maybe it is a little hard for him to hear over the roaring success FoF is in Ancaster.

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted June 06, 2011 at 09:29:20 in reply to Comment 64587

Can we at least wait until FoF happens in Ancaster before assuming it will be a failure?

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By Yeesh (anonymous) | Posted June 06, 2011 at 09:47:16 in reply to Comment 64617

After seeing Loren in action I for one will not be in a rush to give him my money this summer.

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By jason (registered) | Posted June 06, 2011 at 10:24:11 in reply to Comment 64618

I must admit, I've forgotten all about FoF. It used to be a must-attend event for our family, ever since I was a kid, but not anymore. Our family loves the Beaches Jazz Fest (strangely it hasn't been moved to Steeles Ave to accommodate the massive crowds) so we're excited to redirect any FoF money to that great family event instead.

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By JasonGrapes (anonymous) | Posted June 06, 2011 at 11:21:54

Now that Jason and his brood are NOT going to the FoF in Ancaster, I will attend for sure. Jason walks the streets of north hamilton like the lost soul he is...looking for respectability and lost pennies.

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