Monday, December 29, 2008

To KSFR: "We can't talk to the media"

Is it the result of the past eight years or has something bad infiltrated the water?

Too often, KSFR gets the response, "We can't talk to the media." It's beginning to bug me.

A year ago at this time, a Santa Fe County commissioner wanted to hold a meeting with a number of different citizen and industry groups on a growing issue. But he explicitly "un-invited" the media. We could not attend. I blew up. He soon backed off when the groups themselves, hearing from me, became uncomfortable with taking part in such a closed meeting.

A month ago, a representative of the FCC was in Santa Fe to talk to the public about the ins and outs of the television conversion from analog to digital signals. They hired a huge hall, hoping for hundreds of people to listen to his presentation. No one showed up except KSFR's reporter. We tried to interview the representative about his pitch, only to hear, "I'm not authorized to talk with the media.

What? He could talk with thousands of people but not answer the same questions before a microphone? The next day, I interviewed his supervisor (who is authorized to speak with the media) about that policy. To say she sounded like an idiot is an understatement. She knew we were taping, by the way.

The Santa Fe County public information officer sent out an email to all county employees, saying talk to the media at your own peril. They're probably out to gather dirt. It's had a chilling effect on good communications with the county. Yet, I just had an informative conversation with the director of one county program who was not afraid to talk. Good chat on the air. Her stock went up, I'm sure.

Yesterday, our reporter interviewed some passengers taking the Rail Runner commuter train from Albuquerque to Santa Fe. In this burg, the train has been the biggest news since Gov. Bill Richardson announced his run for the presidency. Nice interviews with riders. But Dan Gerrity asked some officials with the train, "Hey, how's it going?" The reply stunned him. "We can't talk with the media." Well, Gerrity said, we've been covering this a lot and we've been down here a lot. "Well, then you know we can't talk with the media."

Want to hear the exchange? Send me an email to and I'll send you an mp3 file of 15 seconds.

Boils down to this:

Passenger: What time does the train arrive?

Conductor: 4:30 is the schedule.

Reporter: What time does the train arrive?

Conductor: We can't talk with the media.

No joke.

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