When it comes to covering the President of the United States, we in the media expect to have to provide credentials, get clearance from the Secret Service and agree to be corralled in a room for hours before he arrives at an event.
That has pretty much been protocol since I have been working for the past three decades.
But really, do public figures in local government really need "handlers" to protect them from the media?
I remember the days (okay it was decades ago) that we could walk into the Public Safety Building, take the elevator to the 6th floor, and interview the police chief, right there on the spot.
The same was true with the sheriff, the mayor etc... Those days are gone.
Now, for many reasons, including security concerns, no one, including the media, can even ride the elevator up to the 6th floor to talk to the sheriff, police chief or whomever, without an escort or an appointment.
I know they are busy people. But they also are public servants. It isn't just the idea of having to make calls, send emails and yes, often times, beg to get permission to talk to public officials. It's also being told what we can/cannot ask at news conferences.
Take yesterday for instance.
We covered a news conference at the County Office Building. County Executive Maggie Brooks was kicking off the annual Coats For Seniors Campaign.
A great program that provides warm coats to older folks. Before we even set up our camera to start shooting, I was warned that the County Executive wouldn't be answering any questions about a recent report blasting the Sheriff's Office for a jail break back in March.
Really? What happened to reporters being able to ask questions at a news conference? Not just questions about the event, but pretty much anything else.
Sure, I could have made a scene and chased the county executive down the hallway after the news conference, but it wasn't worth it. I would look like the idiot.
I know people who work for these public officials are just "doing their jobs." But, so are we.
And many of the same people working for these public officials have also worked in the media. They know what it takes to get our jobs done.
Let us do our job. We will cover the event, but we also have the right to ask other questions of our public officials. That's also part of the job. And it is the job of the public official to either answer the questions or decline comment.
It really isn't that difficult.
Patrice Walsh, Reporter