Penza city hall press office head misleads media by reporting “closed-doors meeting”
Penza, 17 November 2015. PenzaNews. Darya Samarina, head of the information and analysis department for “Penza city advertising service,” has misled several media sources, including PenzaNews agency, by reporting that the November 17 city hall meeting session will be held on a closed-doors basis.
© PenzaNewsBuy the photo
Shortly before the event, Darya Samarina was contacted by PenzaNews reporter Tatyana Kotina in order to learn more about the time and location of the meeting, and fully provided her the required information: at 9.00, in the room No. 320.
However, after learning that the reporter was calling from “PenzaNews,” an independent news agency, rather than “Penza-Press,” an online portal of “Express” media holding, Darya Samarina hesitated during the phone call that took place.
“Well, we usually don’t call you [‘PenzaNews’ agency] there,” said the head of the Penza city press service.
“But we would like to come… Can’t we?” Tatyana Kotina asked.
“Well, we usually call TV channels,” Darya Samarina replied after hesitating; however, she did agree for a PenzaNews reporter’s presence on the event, but only during the first two issues in its schedule.
However, three minutes after the first phone call, the head of the Penza city press service phoned back to the editorial office, and said the November 17 planning meeting will be held on a closed-door basis.
“About the planning meeting. I’ve just clarified it with my chief. The tomorrow meeting will be a closed-door one. We won’t be inviting anyone at all. I’ll be calling everyone now. It’s cancelled,” Darya Samarina said, noting that the information will also be published on the city administration website later on.
“Let’s be calling each other on the upcoming events,” she proposed.
According to information provided by other members of the media community, Darya Samarina did call several editorial offices in that day’s evening with news on the closed-door meeting; nevertheless, on November 17, several media representatives still managed to find their way into room 320 of the Penza city hall, where the planning meeting took place.
The current strategy of informing and inviting only a select number of media sources to official events is counterproductive, says PenzaNews editor-in-chief Pavel Polosin.
“I can state assuredly that it is not just our agency that has been encountering facts of discrimination and loyalty screening for a long time. The previous mayor Roman Chernov and his press service followed this course, and the current press service under the mayor Yuri Krivov does the same in practice. The only difference is that Chernov’s press office did not invite us and several other media to any events or write us into any weekly plans at all, while Krivov’s office only does this on a select basis. And even that took place only after I touched upon the issue during the second All-Russian People’s Front media forum in April 2015, when the Center of Legal Support for Journalists added Penza to its media violations map,” Pavel Polosin recalled.
He also suggested that Roman Chernov – currently the deputy general director of “TNS Energo” and managing director of “TNS Energo Penza” – still follows his principles of non-cooperation with certain media, and the most recent argument behind it is the November 3 incident with the PenzaNews agency photo reporter when the company staff interfered with him taking photos of the organization’s building.
“I would like to remind Yuri Ivanovich [Krivov], who, as we know, recently submitted an early resignation notice, about his own words on transparency for authorities. He said those words during his first planning meeting in the present office, that took place on July 29, 2014. In particular, during the event, Yuri Ivanovich said: ‘The authorities must be open, which includes transparency of procedures, public decisions, justified decisions.’ There is no counter-argument to this notion. Excellent words. But why does it have to contradict the reality?” asked PenzaNews editor-in-chief.
“In any case, regardless of the structure of city authority and the person occupying the mayor’s office in the years to come, we – that means the Penza media community as a whole – must be able to exercise our right to information every day without interference,” Pavel Polosin concluded.