Editors Note: SaultOnline.com was the first media outlet to post the release issued Tuesday night. The mistake was mine and mine alone. I simply didn’t see the “embargo note” on top of the release. I made the error in posting the release and didn’t realize an embargo was attached to it. Though I can not speak for the other media organizations, it is my assumption that they followed SaultOnline in posting the release. The following is a letter issued from MP Bryan Hayes regarding the situation. – Craig Huckerby, Content Director SaultOnline.com
I normally don’t get involved in a debate with the media, as ultimately I will lose. You see, the media really has the power, as they control the pen. They control what portion of an interview they choose to air, what portion of a press release they choose to print, if any, and what event they choose to attend and to what level of detail they actually air with respect to that event. It`s really whatever suits their pleasure and their motive.
Today will be a rare exception as it is necessary for Saultites to hear my perspective on the breach of the embargoed news release with respect to the funding announcement on the ACR. I believe an embargo is a courtesy provided to media by the party issuing the news release. This courtesy is to give the media an opportunity to read the news release and prepare themselves with any questions they may have prior to the public release of the document, so that they can in fact add their professional commentary. Embargos are extremely common, especially when it comes to funding announcements. There is an unspoken protocol, a matter of journalistic integrity if you will, that the media honours the release time indicated, and in my 4 years as a Member of Parliament, the media has been respectful of all embargoed news releases, until Tuesday night. At that time, the Sault Star on-line version, Sault Online and SooToday for some unknown reason chose to ignore the embargo and issue the release. Perhaps it was because the news release was late in the evening. Perhaps it was because the news release was incredibly important to the riding, and they simply felt they couldn’t wait to break the great news. Only they know for sure. MCTV on the other hand, called me to get further details prior to issuing anything and respected the protocol.
The announcement was released late in the evening because literally an hour before the release if that, final approval was granted by Treasury Board – in an evening sitting – for continued funding for ACR for a 3 year period. Given all the circumstances and significant due process and procedure that is mandatory for the Government to follow, the turnaround time for a request of this magnitude was exceptional. Needless to say, I wanted the press release to go out right away given its importance, but also wanted media to have the opportunity to speak with me first, thus the embargo.
Given that 3 media sources chose to ignore the embargo for the first time ever, I directed my office to follow up to find out why. I received an explanation and apology from Sault Online and the Sault Star and I do appreciate that. I believe that was the right thing to do, as do they obviously. I did not solicit an apology, simply an explanation.
SooToday, on the other hand, has taken what I suggest is a much less professional approach. They have instead chosen to defend themselves by making a private e-mail exchange between my office and one of their journalists, public, which in my view, was an extreme breach of trust. This lack of respect has tarnished what was previously a strong partnership between my office and SooToday. SooToday also solicited support from other unnamed regional editors to solidify their position, but I assure you that not all media outlets agree with SooToday’s position – (http://www.wawa-news.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=22314:embargoes-of-press-releases-and-breaking-them&catid=122:editorials&Itemid=157). In terms of how this situation has been handled, I am in fact “Disappointed in SooToday.”
I am overjoyed that months of hard work lobbying for further funding to the ACR has paid off for Northern Ontario. That’s where the real news story should be!