Our newsroom received an interesting press release today from the Minneapolis Police Department.
Apparently, reporters around town have been acting like — get this — journalists. And the police department isn’t too pleased. From the release:
During recent months, members of the Minneapolis Police Department have received telephone calls directly from various members of the media. This practice needs to discontinue immediately. Unless you are directed to do so, please do not contact them directly.
The statement, titled, “Message to the media,” instructs reporters to contact one of the two official spokespersons for the police department to “discuss any media related interviews with any City of Minneapolis police employees.”
Being forced to go through a spokesperson is common practice for most agencies these days, much to the frustration of reporters, as summarized by ProPublica last year.
New York Times investigative reporter David Barstow told ProPublica, “The muscles of journalism are weakening and the muscles of public relations are bulking up–as if they were on steroids.”
I called the Minneapolis Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Stephen McCarty to find out what sparked today’s news release and left a voicemail. If I hear back, I’ll update this post.
Update: Sgt. McCarty called me back. He said there wasn’t one specific call from a reporter that led to the statement. I asked him why he issued it.
“We just don’t want everyone talking to the media, that’s why,” he told me.