On Tuesday City of Surrey, one of the largest municipalities in this part of Canada, decided to become media outlet. Apparently City of Surrey or someone in communications department decided that City of Surrey as municipal administration should start it’s own media platform and inform potential voters about all important elements of election process including news, tweets and link to those. This is first time in over a decade, two continents, several election cycles and work with several municipalities/councils that I saw something like this. This is absolute disaster, disgrace and wondering out of your real purpose and I’ll explain why in words that follow.
City of Surrey is municipal administration which represents all residents who chose to live here. By default they should not wonder into the world of media and discussion about election issues including media articles, tweets, links, news, announcements or any other campaign related issues. City of Surrey as the administration which is funded by taxpayers is not there to dissect news, links and tweets and post them at the website which is part of the official city presentation. That is clear miss use of public money and should be stop at this moment. City of Surrey City Clerk and Chief Electoral Officer, Jane Sullivan, and City Manager Vince Lalonde should know better and should know that City of Surrey as administrative authority doesn’t have any right or role in election process outside what is legislated and delegated by electoral agencies.
Mayor of Surrey, and she is that until new Mayor takes Oath of Office, Dianne Watts should react immediately and take proper action to dismantle this website and to call to responsibility those who started it. Many people employed by the City of Surrey at this moment are either running or considering run for one of positions on upcoming elections and many of the will either volunteer or chose side on which they will be on November 15th. Let’s just remember people that at this moment all 8 Councillors of City of Surrey will run in November and news about them and their campaigns will be placed here. Those are enough reasons to say that City should stay far far away from election process and any opinion or representation of opinions regarding upcoming election process.
Second point is that City of Surrey doesn’t have proper staff to implement this process. City of Surrey has communications and PR staff which are not journalists (at least not at this moment) and far less editorial staff which could make decisions what is proper news or not to be displayed here. Editors with careers longer than mine and those of my colleagues in Surrey, BC, Canada or anywhere in the world will have difficulties to make proper decisions in today’s media world and would probably make a significant mistake(s) during that process.
Tracking all news and social media requires more than 8 hours of work and significant resources which City of Surrey doesn’t have and nor should have it because it is NOT media outlet. Also to connect this with previous words posies a very crucial question: Who and how will chose which material will be included? As I said above many employees will have some sort of involvement in the process and could use this channel of communication to be biased and pro or against one of the candidates on this upcoming elections.
For that we have journalists at two local newspapers including my honourable colleagues Kevin Diakiw and Amy Reid, there is also Laila Yuile and myself, and there are our colleagues from CBC, CTV, Global, The Province, The Vancouver Sun, The Globe and Mail, CKNW, Global, BC1 and dozens more media outlets which will cover upcoming election battle. That is more than enough to have all our citizens informedSo City of Surrey should continue doing what is their business and that is to run municipality on day-to-day basis and ensure that we have less not more problems. Money spent on collecting news or following social media to see who and what has said about elections could be nicely used to inform citizens about City services and programs offered especially to those in need. Also in these hot days could be used to help homeless population to stay hydrated instead of wondering into the media world.
I asked City of Surrey through Twitter, as you can see, to inform us on particular details regarding this adventure, but up to this moment they haven’t reply. And to be honest I don’t expect them to reply. But residents in Surrey already had reacted on social media and they’re outraged that their money would be spent on something like this.
On behalf of my colleague Laila Yuile and myself I’m requesting from the City of Surrey to remove all of our tweets and any, if any, links to our articles which are published on this site.