(Brad Christman is the News Director for Radio PA and Co-Host of our monthly “Ask the Governor” series on PAMatters.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ask any journalist and they’ll tell you that one of the fascinating aspects of our business involves the letters and comments we receive from people who are certain that they know exactly how things work in our industry. Case in point: a comment entered recently here at PAMatters.com regarding our Ask the Governor program, which is Governor Tom Corbett’s only regularly-scheduled statewide access program.
Dennis (who didn’t tell us where he’s from or give us his email address) wrote:
I would appreciate it if you would stop announcing/advertising the pamatters.com as a “conversation,” with the Governor. It is not a conversation. The questions or comments are cherry picked and he has reviewed them before air time. This is another attempt by a politician to appear to be open and pretend that he is giving access to the people of PA.
My, oh, my…where to begin.
First, Dennis, I thank you for listening to the show. We value every single listener & web viewer, and I appreciate hearing from them any time. Unfortunately, despite your emphatic statements of fact, you couldn’t be more wrong in your analysis of the show.
We worked hard to convince Governor Corbett to do this monthly program with Radio PA and PAMatters.com, and he accepted as a way to give you the very open access you seem to deny exists. There’s no “pretending” here. Send in a good, brief email that isn’t poisoned with sarcasm, cynicism and pessimism and you stand a good chance of having it addressed on the air. As I have stated on the program before, which emails get on the air is my call, and mine alone. The governor has never asked us to “cherry pick” questions and he has never tried to restrict the topics.
Second, yes, we do share the listener-emailed questions with the governor’s office in advance, but that’s because these are the most important questions on the show (YOUR questions) and we want him to be able to provide an informative answer during the taping of the program. That sometimes requires some research on his part. All other questions asked by the hosts, which make up a majority of the program, are not required to be screened or shared in advance. Radio PA and PAMatters.com maintain complete editorial control over the program and its content. We wouldn’t do the show otherwise. I also don’t mind pointing out that Governor Corbett has never asked it to be any other way. This IS very much a conversation with the governor, and these policies have been in place since the days our program featured Governor Rendell and Governor Casey (programs that obviously pre-dated the launch of the web component here at PAMatters.com).
I realize that the politically divisive mood in the Commonwealth and the nation right now makes it difficult to accept that something can be as it appears at face value. It’s sad, but I get it. However, I’m confident that a vast majority of our listeners and web followers do appreciate the opportunity afforded them to interact directly with the Governor of Pennsylvania. It’s a rare and valuable thing and I appreciate the many of you who have thanked us for providing that pipeline.
As for our friend Dennis, I hope he has a Happy Thanksgiving and when the time comes to break that wishbone in the Dennis household, there’s no need to wish for a way to contact your governor. We’ve already given you that here at PAMatters.com.
A Happy Thanksgiving to all!