It is apparent by the recent opinion piece in the CSBJ, that the intentions behind having a media policy for the city are being misconstrued. Let me be clear that the policy does not, and never did, prohibit our employees from talking to the media. Being transparent and having an appropriate media policy in a large, complex organization are not contradictions.
We intend to continue to be responsive to both citizen and media inquiries in a timely, yet accurate manner. The media policy is designed to make sure there is a central point where the various components of any one topic are understood with the ultimate purpose of having accurate and complete information provided.
For example, simple factual inquiries such as “When is the estimated completion date for the Woodmen Road project?” are far different than questions about long-term transportation planning, funding and priority-setting for large scale capital projects. As has always been the case, employees contacted by media with questions such as the former, will provide the factual information. They will then simply let Communications know of the contact so they are aware of topics being discussed in the news and ensure that the Mayor and City Council know what people are interested in learning about. When questions are more complex, deal with policy, and/or cross various departments, we are asking employees to use the expertise and broad organizational knowledge of our Communications staff. By the nature of their jobs, the Communications staff can take a 30,000-foot look at an issue and coordinate involvement from all departments with relevant information on any particular topic.
The bottom line is the media policy is intended to ensure the public, via the media channels, is provided with consistent, accurate and complete communications from the City. We do not intend for it to be a barrier to anyone’s access to information. If media members are finding barriers, I encourage them to let me know as I am always open to looking at adjustments to processes that make sense.
Steve Cox, chief of staff for Mayor Steve Bach