Media Advisory - Does The Press Gallery Matter?

CJF J-Talk in Ottawa

TORONTO, March 20, 2014 /CNW/ - With access to the Prime Minister, ministers and MPs increasingly restricted, is the influence of political reporters on the wane? The Canadian Journalism Foundation explores this question at its next J-Talk at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa on April 9.

"Parliament's recognition and respect for the role the media have to play in our democratic system dates back to Confederation - journalists were there in the gallery from the first debate," says Jennifer Ditchburn, senior parliamentary correspondent for the Ottawa bureau of The Canadian Press, who will speak at the event. "We've arrived at a disturbing moment in our history where the message seems to be that reporters are not even necessary anymore, that they are an annoyance that needs to be bypassed and their access to parliamentarians and government information blocked."

Members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery recently voted unanimously to assert their right to scrum Prime Minister Harper so they could "fulfill our functions as journalists in a democratic society." The vote was a reaction to restrictions on access to the PM and his ministers—and a revealing glimpse of how the ground has shifted on Ottawa political reporters. The regular prime ministerial news 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?

Join Jennifer Ditchburn, Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism, Senator Jim Munson, a former long-time member of the Press Gallery, and Paul Wells, political editor of Maclean's for this discussion. Tom Clark, chief political correspondent for Global News and host of The West Block, will moderate.

This is part of the CJF J-Talks series, exploring issues and challenges shaping journalism.

Thank you to CJF J-Talk exclusive series sponsor BMO Financial Group, venue sponsor National Arts Centre and in-kind supporters CNW and CPAC.

WHERE: National Arts Centre (Salon), 53 Elgin St., Ottawa
WHEN: Wednesday, April 9 / Discussion 7:00 p.m. / Reception 8:30 p.m.

Early Bird: $25 (Limited quantity available. General admission tickets: $30)
Students: $15 (Limited quantity available. ID at the door)
Register now

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About The Canadian Journalism Foundation
Founded in 1990, The Canadian Journalism Foundation (CJF) is a not-for-profit organization that promotes excellence in journalism by celebrating outstanding journalistic achievement through an annual awards program; by organizing events that facilitate dialogue among journalists, business people, academics and students about the role of the media in Canadian society; by supporting journalism websites, J-Source.ca English and ProjetJ (French), in co-operation with the country's leading journalism schools; and by fostering opportunities for journalism education, training and research.

SOURCE Canadian Journalism Foundation

For further information:

Media Contact:
Wendy Kan
Program Manager
The Canadian Journalism Foundation
416-955-0394 x502
wkan@cjf-fjc.ca