Saturday, April 01, 2006

NDP Communications Shakeup

If you thought Stephen Harper's firing of communications director William Stairs for bungling the David Emerson story was fast and arbitrary, what does that make Jack Layton's firing of the NDP communications director less than two weeks into the job?

Especially when you consider his replacement.

If nothing else, NDP press releases should make for interesting reading:

Federal NDP leader Jack Layton has replaced the party's communications director with a controversial progressive political activist in a move that has surprised party insiders and media analysts.

Robert McClelland, a veteran NDP activist well-known in party circles for his widely-read political blog, succeeds Brad Lavigne less than two weeks after Lavigne himself succeeded Jamey Heath.


Reaction to the appointment has marked a sharp and deep divide within NDP ranks. Younger tech-savvy supporters have hailed McClelland's hiring as a sign that the party is embracing the power of the Internet and other new media to get its message out past traditional mainstream media gatekeepers.

"This is like the NDP's Howard Dean moment," said one NDP youth activist. "A progessive party needs someone who understands how progressive media works.

But some senior party insiders have expressed concern over McClelland's relative lack of experience with the traditional print and broadcast media and past statements made on his blog.

"Communications is about more than just writing," said a former senior NDP communications officer. "You have to build bridges with the press gallery. You have to know their needs and how to meet them. We've seen how (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper's people have turned them off by fighting them instead of feeding them. Can a guy who's never been part of the press gallery scene keep them fed and happy? I don't know."

Everybody is piling on in this story--Michael Geist, Antonia Zerbisias, James Laxer, even the guys at the Daily Kos and Rabble.

Let me be the first to congratulate McClelland on his new job. Whatever you think of the man's style and opinions, you have to admit that the NDP is taking bloggers' talents and experience seriously.

Print reporters must have reacted the same way when the first radio newsmen went into government communications. And ditto for print and radio hacks when the first TV guys got taken seriously enough to do the same.

You can read the rest of the story here.


Surecure said...

That is nice for McLa-La-Land. And I think the statement that this is the NDP's "Howard Dean moment" is truly apt... but not in the way that they might like.

When you put an extremist like McLa-La-Land with his boisterous and unflinching (read: never admits when he's wrong) attitude in charge of your communication, you better be ready for what he is going to let slide into the media.

Personally? I'm so happy the NDP did this. I'm truly grinning from ear to ear.

Surecure said...

By the way... I like the rest of the article. :-D

Brian Lemon said...

I feel kinda bad for deleting his comments on my blog. I had the communications director of the NDP write to me... And I just thought he was a goof who specialized in drive by crappings.
I should be honoured.

Alberta Pat said...

McClelland is one of the nastier pieces of work that the Internet has thrown up. With this appointment Layton demonstrates that he has the judgement of a demented parrot. How can one take a political party seriously that has as its mouthpiece an obnoxious, foul-mouthed oaf like McClelland?

Oh, I forgot about Old Beer and Popcorn Scotty. Still.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the new PR guy actually a woman: Ann Coulter?

Anonymous said...

McClueless has shown a remarkable ability to reach out to others.

Brian Lemon said...

It should be pretty easy to inform the MSM that the new guy is a little beyond the pale.

gnotalex said...

Good one. :-)