EDITORIAL: So much for spin city

Is the City of White Rock trying to spin the news?

Is the City of White Rock trying to spin the news?

Council recently went to some lengths to specify who is officially sanctioned to speak on behalf of city hall.

That move may be a matter of housekeeping – if not exactly housecleaning – for the city.

Some have reportedly seen this exercise as a sinister attempt by White Rock to exert iron-fisted control over what is published.

In reality, it changes nothing.

The city’s communications co-ordinator, Jamie Leggatt, issued a statement last week spelling out the policy, adopted May 31: “Unless otherwise authorized, the city’s spokespersons are: mayor, deputy mayor, the city manager, city clerk, department heads. Exceptions regarding departmental spokespersons may be made at the discretion of the department head.”

What else is new? These are the officials most of us in the media would assume would have the authority to speak for the city – any city. And the policy does nothing to limit comment from others, speaking as individuals.

If, as some suggest, it as an attempt to muzzle city councillors, it is one that is doomed to failure.

Politicians, by nature, are not shy about expressing their opinions. But has one ever assumed that, in voicing their opinions, councillors presume to speak for the city, or even council as a whole? Politics being what it is, such opinions are prone to change at short notice. The most meaningful indicator of the will of council, at the end of the day, is the majority vote.

Nor does the policy limit, or prevent, what reporters have always done to developing other sources of information. Even the hottest tip, rumour or leaked piece of information requires substantiation, and an opportunity for official comment, for a story to have any semblance of being balanced.

If a newspaper – or some other media outlet – is seeking official comment from a city, guess what? It will attempt to go to a mayor, or a deputy mayor, or the city clerk or a department head.

And if the department head doesn’t think the particular issue is a political hot potato, and that Charlie or Charlene further down the ladder has the pertinent details, we may well be directed to that individual.

Perhaps somebody unfamiliar with the mechanics of governmental process – and unaware of the continuing dance between public servants, politicians and the media – might be forgiven for being surprised and dismayed by White Rock’s policy.

Surely, no one else is.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Hold and secure’ lifted at Surrey elementary school

Bonaccord elementary school at 14986 98th Ave. was subject to the order ollowing a police incident in the area Monday morning

Semiahmoo Rock alumni selected in pro lacrosse draft

Tre Leclaire, Sam La Roue picked by National Lacrosse League teams

Former worker at Surrey brewery claims he was bullied on the job

Human rights complaint to be heard against Surrey’s Central City Brewers and Distillers Ltd.

Families with dispute-resolution issues to get help in Surrey

Model was first introduced in Victoria in 2019

COVID-19 exposures at Surrey schools: An updated list

Fraser Health has created a new webpage listing COVID-19 cases in schools

Quirky Canadian comedy ‘Schitt’s Creek’ takes Emmys by storm with comedy sweep

Toronto-raised Daniel Levy and Ottawa-born Annie Murphy both got supporting actor nods

B.C.’s Chase Claypool catches first NFL touchdown pass

Abbotsford grad establishes new record for longest scrimmage TD by a Canadian

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

181 days gone: Family continues to look for man last seen in RCMP custody 6 months ago

Brandon Sakebow’s last known location was leaving Mission RCMP cell, police say; family has doubts

Mission poker player missing in Nevada is found alive and safe

Brad Booth went missing in July 13, found in mid September

B.C. unveils new cannabis sales programs to help small, Indigenous growers

Government did not say how it will define small producers, but says nurseries will be included in the policy

Most Read