OPINION: No more free passes

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We’ve seen this at the national level, but it seems to be permeating through Chatham-Kent.

Elected officials and civil servants simply not returning phone calls or e-mails from members of the media.

Politicians not answering questions is nothing new. It happens, unfortunately, everywhere. The kings and queens of spin often attempt to deflect the question by replying with an ambiguous answer, blowing verbal smoke and dodging the direct question.

It happens all the time in political debates and during press conferences. They don’t want to give up information, so they dance around the question and hope it goes away.

The worst is when politicians just don’t bother to show up for debates. So much for open and transparent communication.

Too often, journalists let the politician get away with dodging questions, or just don’t have a chance to press the issue as the political handler moves onto a different reporter during a press conference.

Locally, we at The Voice are at times finding growing delays when reaching out to government officials at all levels for information and requests for interviews.

Not all staffers fit into this category. Some are quick to reply, even doing so after hours when their day finally frees up. That effort is greatly appreciated.

Ignoring the media is tantamount to ignoring the public. We are asking questions on their behalf.

We understand our interview subjects are often busy. But sharing information educates the public, a vital element in democracy.

Social media has not helped matters. Politicos can deliver their “message” in exactly the format they desire, avoiding potential landmine questions that could expose flaws in the information they are discussing.

The same is true when a press release is issued, but no one is available to comment. The message is controlled, without a chance for followup.

This is plain unacceptable.

We are a weekly newspaper. If a public official can’t be bothered to reply to requests for additional information in a timely manner, we at The Voice are now going to notify the public of this in our articles.

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