By Andru McCracken, EDITOR
Everybody is working for some ‘body’ and these days every ‘body’ has their tongue tied… . It all started with the provincial government in 2001, despite the fact they had knowledgeable and competent staff scattered across the entire province, suddenly all communication came from Victoria.
And thus began a new age of disinformation.
It’s complex describing how bad it gets… but rest assured, it gets bad.
If I want to learn about what’s happening in the provincial park next door, I call Victoria. The school down the street? It’s a call to a guy who’s been here a handful of times who lives in Prince George.
If I need to talk to a doctor for a story, it’s the same, but worse.
Everyone is covering their asses, and it offers no protection for their heads.
Since 2001, the infection has spread to almost every agency big and small, government, corporate, and even nonprofits play the game. No one with knowledge about a subject is allowed to talk for fear of the repercussions in the media, therefore everything is translated through a communications official. Good people, but rarely experts in the field I’m interested in, and rarely connected to what is happening on the ground. Often the first task for media relations is determining:
Oh, is that in my Ministry?
It’s a limitation that potentially reduces gaffs, but also tears at accountability and good governance in any institution.
But there is a fix: Whistle blowing.
If you see something patently unsafe at work consider blowing the whistle. Document what you see to the best of your ability and share it anonymously.
How about something unfair? Something obviously unjust? Or something just plain old stupid?
If you see something that works for the company, but does a grand disservice to society… consider blowing the whistle.
On a plus side:
This week I had a strange sensation. I asked an organization for information about Valemount, in particular. And, within the day, they gave said information to me. When I followed up, they provided even more information allowing me to check their work.
It was like a portal opened and I time travelled back to the Halcyon days when agencies were just learning to reprimand managers who still spoke openly and on the record on the topics they were expert in. (One imagines they felt so compelled because of a sense of ownership of their work and a profound feeling of duty to the public.)
More than ever our communities are full of people working for massive organizations with draconian media rules in place. Whether you are a pipeline worker, a protestor, a temporary foreign worker, a professional, a teacher, a nurse or just a resident who doesn’t feel safe speaking out, consider blowing the whistle on bad practices. We will never disclose your name to the authorities and do our best to ensure you aren’t found out.
Never use social media to blow the whistle.
In the coming weeks the Rocky Mountain Goat will provide an online portal and provide guidance on how to blow the whistle anonymously.