In today's council corner, Mayor Ian Sutherland graciously acknowledges the countless hours the staff at the Chief put into portraying what occurs at a district level and in the community.
I must admit, it's unusual for media to receive accolades from a political figure, but people often forget that community newspapers are different than huge corporate media outlets so often lambasted in well, in other huge corporate media outlets.
But if any politician should know how hard the Chief's reporters work, the mayor certainly should. Not only will Sutherland make himself readily available to the media on all subjects district-related, he is also the only person at the district level who is allowed to speak to the media. Sutherland has taken on the role of sole spokesperson and media information officer for the District of Squamish.
Whether he knows about the topic or not, the mayor is always at the forefront of media questions. And he's not afraid to admit that he doesn't know the topic in depth and will have to get back to the journalist after conferring with his staff. Oh sure, this may sometimes cause frustration with reporters who wish to draw on the expertise of the people at the staff level. We have many great minds in district staff; more than just a few are highly regarded in their field of expertise. But staff's orders are to stay mum, so to the mayor we must go.
If only more members of the community would take a page out of the mayor's book.
Every so often, Chief editors and journalists receive calls from the public, and are even stopped on the street to have a strip torn off them for what they perceive is inadequate coverage. Just yesterday a gentleman called to accuse the Chief of being part of a conspiracy of silence over what he said are the recent numerous "raids" on problem properties in Dentville. The man supports the raids. His point - and I agree - is that it sends an important message to the criminal element out there. I explained that we were told of a few such "raids" but were unaware of a heightened number of them. When I asked for more information I heard "I don't want to get involved." The number of times I've heard individuals say: "This issue should be a front page story!" quickly followed by: "I won't give you information," has caused me more than just a little frustration.
I say take a page out of the mayor's book. Have the courage of your conviction and be your own spokesperson. After all, do you really want to let someone else do all the talking for you?