What's the focus of your story?

Now I realize why the B.C. government wastes my time on a regular basis phoning for clarification about interview requests.

My colleague Stephen Hui has just revealed that under the provincial Liberals, bureaucrats keep stats on response times to inquiries from journalists.

Invariably, my requests for an interview immediately result in a call back from a government staffer asking about the nature of the story.

It doesn't matter if my earlier message spelled out exactly what I wanted to know. The call still arrives.

This happens at the federal, provincial, and increasingly, civic levels of government.

Last October, I was so exasperated that I wrote a short commentary about this topic.

Until I read Stephen's post, I never realized why communications people call once or twice or even three times—even then, with no guarantee of anyone being able to speak to me on the record.

Now, I recognize that it's so they can enter something in a log book to show their masters that they responded in a timely manner.

Maybe it's time for media outlets to start billing the government for wasting staff time in this way.

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