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J-Talk in Ottawa
Does The Press Gallery Matter?
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?
The chief political correspondent for Global News and host of The West Block moderates this panel.
Join 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, and 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, for this discussion.
April 9, 2014
National Arts Centre (Salon), 53 Elgin Street, Ottawa
Registration: 6:30 p.m. | Discussion: 7:00 p.m. | Reception: 8:30 p.m.
ABOUT OUR SPEAKERS
DAVID AKIN is the national bureau chief for Sun Media and host of Battleground, a program that focuses exclusively on elections here and around the world at the federal, provincial and municipal level broadcast Monday to Friday on Sun News Network. Since arriving on Parliament Hill in 2005, Akin has covered events as varied as Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s annual tours through the Arctic to the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt to terror trials at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba. On Sun News Network, Akin has anchored live coast-to-coast wire-to-wire election night coverage for the 2011 federal election as well as the most recent provincial elections in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Nova Scotia. Akin received a Gemini Award for his reporting while he was a correspondent for CTV National News with Lloyd Robertson and he was a National Newspaper Award finalist while working as a contributing writer for The Globe and Mail. His 30-year career in journalism also includes being a member of the inaugural staff at the National Post. Akin has long been one of Canada’s journalism pioneers when it comes to exploring ways to use digital media and computer-assisted tools for newsgathering and publishing. His blog, On The Hill, is nearly a decade old and he is a frequent speaker on the use of social media in communications. He served for three years as a member of the board of directors of the Parliamentary Press Gallery. @davidakin
JENNIFER DITCHBURN is a senior parliamentary correspondent with the Ottawa bureau of The Canadian Press. A graduate of Concordia University in her hometown of Montreal, Ditchburn began working for The Canadian Press in that city in the lead-up to the 1995 referendum, and went on to work in the agency’s Toronto and Edmonton bureaus before landing in the nation’s capital in 1997. Between 2001 and 2006, she was a national reporter with CBC Television on Parliament Hill. Ditchburn returned to The Canadian Press in early 2006, and in 2010 won a National Newspaper Award in the Politics category. She was nominated for another NNA this spring for her coverage of the Senate spending scandal. Ditchburn is a frequent contributor to television and radio public affairs programs, including CBC’s Power and Politics and the At Issue panel. She is currently completing a Master of Journalism at Carleton University. @jenditchburn
HONOURABLE JASON KENNEY is the Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister of Multiculturalism. Mr Kenney served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, prior to his election to the House of Commons in 1997 as Member of Parliament for Calgary Southeast. He has been re-elected five times. He is a former Chairman of the House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights, and served in several positions in Opposition, including as Finance Critic and Deputy House Leader. Mr. Kenney became Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Harper in 2006, and Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity in 2007. As Canada’s longest-serving Minister of Citizenship and Immigration from 2008 to 2013, Mr. Kenney implemented comprehensive reforms to Canada’s immigration, refugee and citizenship programs. In July, 2013 he was appointed Minister of Employment and Social Development, with a mandate to ensure that Canadians are well-prepared to participate fully in the labour market of the future. He chairs the Cabinet Committee on Operations, is the Regional Minister for Southern Alberta, and sits on the Cabinet Committees for Social Affairs and Planning and Priorities.
JIM MUNSON is the Senator for Ottawa-Rideau Canal. He has served as the Director of Communications to the Prime Minister. He has had an extensive career in journalism both in Canada and abroad. He previously served as a television correspondent for CTV reporting on national events in the public and political arena. He was CTV’s Bureau Chief in Beijing from 1987 to 1992 reporting on events in China such as Tiananmen Massacre of June 4, 1989. He also served as Bureau Chief and senior correspondent in Halifax, Nova Scotia and London, England. He has covered the Iran-Iraq war, the Gulf war and the Philippines.
TOM CLARK is the chief political correspondent for Global News and the host of The West Block. He has interviewed every prime minister since Lester B. Pearson and covered every federal election campaign since 1974. Abroad, he was the bureau chief in Beijing during the early 1980s, and spent five years as the bureau chief in Washington DC. Besides his permanent postings, Clark has spent much of his career travelling the world, reporting from 33 countries. He has reported from six active war zones, most recently from Afghanistan. He was also one of only a handful of journalists who made it into Belgrade to witness the bombing of Yugoslavia. He was in Berlin the night the wall came down, in Moscow’s Red Square when the hammer and sickle was lowered for the last time, and in Tiananmen Square the night the Chinese army attacked. Clark's great-grandfather, Joseph T. Clark, was editor of Saturday Night and editor-in-chief of the Toronto Star. His grandfather was a reporter with the Star, and his father helped spearhead Canada Newswire. @tomclarktv
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The Canadian Journalism Foundation
The Canadian Journalism Foundation promotes excellence in journalism by celebrating outstanding journalistic achievement. Our signature events include an annual awards program featuring a must-attend annual industry gala where Canada's top newsmakers meet Canada's top news people. Through J-Talks, our popular speaker’s series, we facilitate dialogue among journalists, business people, academics and students about the role of the media in Canadian society and the ongoing challenges for media in the digital era. The foundation also supports journalism websites J-Source.ca (English) and ProjetJ.ca (French) and fosters opportunities for journalism education, training and research. Please visit us at http://cjf-fjc.ca.