Access to politicians has rarely been more controlling. Try finding a politician to ask.

These are difficult days for political journalism since politicians around the world have rarely been so guarded with their access and so controlling with information. CP/Justin Tang

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Politicians are doing a lot more to control access and shield themselves from pesky reporters. From Ottawa to Washington and beyond, questions are being raised about the lack of opportunity to ask questions of our politicians. And the lack of answers given.

 

The images in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's weekly video message (above) on his 24 Seven Youtube channel is the only record of Joe Oliver's swearing in as the new Finance Minister because the event was off limits to the media. It's the way the Prime Minister prefers to communicate with Canadians...with no interference from the Press Gallery.


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Even back in 2006, the battle between the Prime Minister and the Press was evident. Here is Stephen Harper
delivering a statement in front of TV cameras, after a group of journalists left following an announcement
that Mr. Harper would not take questions in the foyer of the House of Commons. (CP/Fred Chartrand)

The increasing lack of access to the Prime Minister and government sources prompted the members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery to ignore restrictions set out by the government....and ask questions of the Prime Minister and other Parliamentarians at all photo opportunities.

Today, as part of our Eye on Media project, we're looking at this change in strategy by the press corps in Ottawa.

  • Laura Payton is a CBC reporter and the president of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. She was in our Ottawa studio.

  • Mark Bourrie has been covering politics in Ottawa for over 25 years. He teaches media history at Ottawa's Carleton University and is the author of the upcoming book Kill the Messengers: Stephen Harper's attack on your right to know. It's set for release early next year. Mr. Bourrie was also in our Ottawa studio.

  • Al Tompkins is a long-time journalist and teaches professional journalists at The Poynter Institute. He was in St Petersburg, Florida.

We reached out to the Prime Minister's Office for their response to this story, but they declined our request for an interview.


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This segment was produced by The Current's Sujata Berry and Josh Bloch.

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