This leaked email from The Courier Mail’s state political correspondent Steven Wardill — in which he expresses frustration at the increasingly unavailable Queensland ministers that he’s trying to cover — says a lot about the current cut and paste media cycle:

—– Original Message —–
From: Wardill, Steven
To: Paul Cronin; Belinda Taylor; Lorann Downer; Steve Keating; Mark Symons; Renee Mickelburgh; Marnie Stitz; Jane Rowe; Joe Begley; Robert Hoge; Matthew Klar; John Smith; Ellen McIntyre; Troy Davies
; Chris Taylor; Catherine Goldie; Joanne Crompton; Marcus Taylor; Emma Parnell; Scott Chandler; Peter Nibbs; Lisa Taylor; Alexia Deegan; Wendy Nye; Clare Gillic
Cc: Mike Kaiser
Sent: Thu Nov 20 13:06:27 2008
Subject: FW:

Dear Media Advisors,

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The incessant practise of issuing written statements to The Courier Mail is out of control. Where once most ministers would get on the phone and talk through an issue, then provide comment, it is now a near certainty, particularly among some, that a statement is issued for quotation. Often these statements don’t even address the questions asked. While this may seem clever, it is actually very counter productive to leave issues outstanding.

We understand ministers are busy. And we understand The Courier Mail makes a large number of calls and demands on your time compared to other media outlets. However, the offices of some ministers who constantly claim their minister is “too busy”, “in meetings all day”, “on a plane”, or “out of range” are going to ruin things for those who are genuinely too busy.

There are times when ministers are genuinely too busy or the statement required is just necessary facts and figures. This is acceptable and sensible.

However, the Premier manages to return calls often and I would like to hear any argument about why your ministers are busier than her. If your minister is not competent enough to talk publicly about an issue in their portfolio then the public should be made aware of this.

Television doesn’t accept written statements for quotation, neither does radio. So why should we?

If this practise continues unchecked, we will be left with no choice but to no longer accept written statements. The only Government response will be that the minister was unavailable or refused to comment, whatever the case may be. We will be asking identical of the Opposition.

The alternative is for me to distribute the latest white cards around the office and for reporters to phone ministers directly, either on their mobiles or at home.

Cheers,

Steven Wardill | State Political Correspondent
The Courier Mail
41 Campbell St Bowen Hills

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