Closed to media? Closed to the public.

Evan matthews valemount headshot

by EVAN MATTHEWS, editor

I’m still pretty fresh into my journalism career, yet I’ve noticed a recurring trend when writing stories out of Village Council.

It’s been difficult to have open dialogue with certain elected officials.

Public comment period after council meetings is not a dialogue — it’s a maximum three-minute statement you can make about anything on the agenda of the day, but not about anything else; that’s your shot to be heard.

Where does the mayor, the spokesperson for the village, position herself on direct-use geothermal? What does she envision as an ideal partnership between the Village and Borealis, or does she?

What is going on with the rainbow crosswalk? Council had next to zero discussion, and we haven’t heard anything since other than Council is doing “research.”

What is the administration’s feeling regarding VGD, and what are the long-term economic plans for the Village if the resort goes in?

These are just a few of my questions, questions that can’t be answered with any accuracy through an email. Emails lack context and depth.

Not due to lack of trying, as new Editor of the Goat, I have yet to speak to any administration member directly regarding any news item. To me, this is concerning.

Media is the same as any citizen. Journalists spend extra time calling, sending emails and sometimes showing up to places uninvited, but — beyond a few tricks of the trade — we have the same access to elected officials as the any member of the public.

Some journalists go to school, others learn on the job, as journalists go — they learn better and better how to ask questions, and know where to look for things.

But anyone can ask for details.

If Village Council isn’t open and accessible to its local media, it’s not accessible to its citizens. It means no one can access information in a timely manner.

Media is a communication tool, and a way not only for the public to access their government, but also for a government to access its voters.

By keeping people in the loop, public figures avoid the frustration of repeating themselves over and over.

Media allows for an opportunity to be clear on a message, and to inform the public on the importance of specific topics and items.

Working toward community goals includes informing the community, and communicating with them. Media, the newspaper, is a way of connecting, and working together.

  • leo

    Most politicians are aware of the business of newspapers – to make money. Reporters must realize that they are asking the politician to help them do that – make money. However, a symbiotic relationship can sometimes be developed that may also be beneficial to the public.
    Sadly, this relationship usually leads to the demise of both organisms…
    In “The Bully Pulpit”, Doris Kearns Goodwin describes the process against the backdrop of US history.