Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, centre, addresses attendees at a press conference to announce the launch of the Canadian Energy Centre at SAIT in Calgary. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS

Orwellian: Journalist group protests Alberta war room’s use of term ‘reporters’

EDMONTON — Staff in the Alberta government’s so-called war room should stop calling themselves reporters, says the president of the Canadian Association of Journalists.

“Don’t pretend that you’re doing journalism — because you’re not,” Karyn Pugliese said Tuesday from Winnipeg. “When the government hires its own PR firm, that’s fine. But when you pretend that PR firm is journalism, that’s positively Orwellian.”

Earlier this month, Alberta’s United Conservative government opened the Canadian Energy Centre, often referred to by Premier Jason Kenney as a “war room” for reacting to and correcting perceived misinformation on the province’s energy industry.

The centre has since published a series of articles on its website. Sources contacted for those stories have told media organizations, including The Canadian Press, that staff identified themselves on the phone as reporters.

The energy centre did not reply to a request for comment Tuesday, but spokesman Grady Semmens has said that staff are “not advised” to use that term.

Pugliese said using the word “reporter” is a dangerous attempt to blur the lines between truth and messaging.

At the very least, she said, journalism must be arm’s-length from government. The energy centre’s board consists of three provincial cabinet members and is run by a failed United Conservative candidate.

“The mission of journalism is to be a Fourth Estate, to question things, to try to get to the truth as fairly and balanced as you can,” Pugliese said. “It holds the government to account.”

She said the energy centre’s mission is quite different: “It’s trying to spin. It’s trying to win.”

Pugliese said using the term reporter deliberately misrepresents the writer and the intent of the work.

“When they’re approaching people and they’re saying, ‘We’re journalists,’ people are expecting them to behave the way journalists behave.

“That’s not what they’re doing.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City council opts to stick with RCMP

Motion to begin transitioning to a municipal police force defeated 6-3

Parks Canada says no to gondola proposed from Banff townsite to Mount Norquay

BANFF, Alta. — Parks Canada has rejected a proposed gondola to take… Continue reading

What was said about RCMP versus muncipal policing in Red Deer council chambers:

Some notable quotes from Tuesday’s policing discussions by Red Deer city council:… Continue reading

Prison watchdog decries ‘Indigenization’ of Canada’s correctional system

OTTAWA — The proportion of Indigenous people in federal custody has hit… Continue reading

McConnell backs off, abruptly eases impeachment trial limits

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate plunged into President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial… Continue reading

WATCH: Canadian kid shovelling snow video goes viral

Rory might just be Canada’s most popular toddler right now, thanks to… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Jan. 22 Downtown House Senior Center (5414 43 St.) in Red Deer… Continue reading

Parks Canada says no to gondola proposed from Banff townsite to Mount Norquay

BANFF, Alta. — Parks Canada has rejected a proposed gondola to take… Continue reading

Prison watchdog decries ‘Indigenization’ of Canada’s correctional system

OTTAWA — The proportion of Indigenous people in federal custody has hit… Continue reading

McConnell backs off, abruptly eases impeachment trial limits

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate plunged into President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial… Continue reading

Lineups form outside grocery stores in St. John’s, N.L., on 5th day of emergency

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Emptying kitchen cupboards were restocked in St. John’s,… Continue reading

Changes to Hall of Fame and a quick entry for Tiger Woods

SAN DIEGO — Tiger Woods won’t have to wait until he’s 50… Continue reading

Manitoba’s record-breaking snow maze captures winter’s whimsical charm

ST. ADOLPHE, Man. — It doesn’t take a master sleuth to figure… Continue reading

Most Read