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April 11, 2014 @ 4:12 pm

Does the Press Gallery Matter?

Ottawa, April 9, 2014 - Members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery recently voted unanimously to "reserve the right to ask questions in all photo-ops and availabilities with the prime minister, cabinet ministers, and all parliamentarians, to fulfil our function as journalists in a democratic society.” The vote was a reaction to restrictions on access to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his ministers--and a revealing glimpse of how the ground has shifted on Ottawa political reporters. The regular Prime Ministerial press conference is a thing of the past. Senior bureaucrats hesitate to brief journalists. The PM and ministers take their message on the road or send it out on weekly video clips. Opposition MPs use the same techniques.

As a result, is the influence of political reporters on the wane in the face of shrinking resources, wide use of social media, and the distance Ottawa puts between government and reporters? Does the national media coverage of the government matter as much as it used to?

Tom Clark, chief political correspondent for Global News and host of The West Block moderated this discussion with Jennifer Ditchburn, senior parliamentary correspondent for the Ottawa bureau of The Canadian Press, Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister of Multiculturalism, Senator Jim Munson, a former long-time member of the Press Gallery, and David Akin, national bureau chief for Sun Media and host of Battleground.

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