Reporting on government gets reported to government

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Who watches the watchers?

A short answer to that question is the government.

Media monitoring isn't new for governments, but changes in technology have made it easier for politicians and their staffers to keep an eye on what's being said in the media.

A few months ago my colleague Teresa Wright showed how our provincial government does that when she requested a week's worth of media monitoring.

But with reporters tweeting regularly and news outlets posting stories online, governments have expanded reach when it comes to monitoring the media.

The response can be quick, as I saw twice in recent weeks when I wrote stories about the federal government's EI changes.

In one case I didn't even realize the story had been posted online yet when I got a statement from Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney's office in response to it.

I hadn't asked for a comment.

More recently, someone from Kenney's office called wondering why I hadn't contacted them for comment on a story involving the minister and Malpeque MP Wayne Easter's comments about EI changes during question period.

Someone was watching.

Kenney, I was told, was eager to comment and someone from his office would contact me to set up a time for an interview.

It was all unsolicited and although I wasn't really looking for an interview, I would have been happy to talk to him at the time when the story was still a little fresh.

I never did get that call, but I'm sure someone from his office will see this and I won't be surprised if I get one.

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

twitter.com/ryanrross

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