METRO changes video policy, effectively smears local media

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METRO’s PR representative Raequel Roberts has apparently decided that real-time, independent reporting on METRO does not fit well with the public organization’s PR objectives. Here is the substance of a letter emailed to various local news organizations yesterday:

Dear [Redacted by bH]:

To provide for a more accurate account of accidents and incidents on our system, METRO is changing its policy for releasing videos from facility and vehicle cameras.

METRO will no longer release tapes the day of an accident or incident, but will instead release them when its investigation is complete.

This will ensure information provided to [Redacted by bH] is complete, allowing your staff to produce more factual reporting.

We encourage you to make your reporters aware of this change of policy, and we appreciate your cooperation as we try to provide the public with accurate information about the operation of its transit system.

Sincerely,

Raequel Roberts
Sr. Director of Media Relations & Corporate Communications

Let me translate that: We at METRO really don’t care for independent reporting about METRO in real time, and so we will change our policy so that our PR-department-sanitized version of the news is released to the city’s journalists well after the “news” has become “olds.”

Note the intimation that local news organizations have inaccurately reported on METRO, and need Ms. Roberts’ help to “produce more factual reporting.” Obviously, news organizations should provide news consumers with accurate, factual reporting (and also timely reporting). If Ms. Roberts can document instances of local news organizations using METRO videos in real-time to report inaccurately, she should demand corrections (and perhaps put METRO’s $76,000/year blogger to work putting those corrections online, in the name of getting accurate information to the public). But to hamstring the local media with this sort of edict strikes us as insulting and reactionary, and contrary to the goal of getting taxpayers accurate information about their transit organization as quickly as possible.

Here’s hoping that reporters and news directors in town will object both to METRO’s new PR policy and to Ms. Roberts’ insinuations about their professional abilities to cover the organization independently and objectively.

ANNE ADDS: Hey! Recall when METRO CEO Frank “Procurement Disaster” Wilson said:

We operate the METRO organization in a completely transparent manner.

Yeah, using Metro’s definition of transparency: obfuscation and procrastination.


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