At the behest of Mayor Randy Watts, Logan City reportedly enacted a new policy for its employees’ interactions with the media this week, requiring members of the media to submit all inquiries regarding city business in writing. The new policy was encountered Wednesday afternoon when a reporter with KVNU radio contacted the Logan City Police Department with a request for information about a misdemeanor citation that was issued to a Logan resident on Tuesday. The reporter was notified that a new city policy required all inquiries from the media to be submitted in writing. That information prompted a call to Mayor Randy Watts’ office. City Recorder Teresa Harris told KVNU that there wasn’t exactly a written policy in place now, but that the city was going to try a new procedure in handling questions from the media. Harris told KVNU that Jay Patrick, the reporter at The Herald Journal newspaper who regularly covers Logan government issues, had sent a list of questions to Watts regarding the policy. Watts responded to the questions and Harris forwarded a copy of the responses to KVNU. (
<a href=”http://kvnuforthepeople.com/2010/01/20/logan-city-implementing-new-policy-requiring-media-to-submit-all-questions-about-city-in-writing-and-to-wait-for-a-response/”>The full list of questions and responses from Watts can be seen by clicking here.</a>
) In Watts’ responses to the newspaper’s questions, he said the purpose of the new policy “is to ensure that information released to the media is accurate and timely and that all appropriate personnel have an opportunity to comment.” He said the policy was the result of a discussion item at an executive committee meeting, and such policy had been discussed in the past as a way to coordinate communication between various city departments and the media. In his responses, Watts declined to provide a copy of the policy to The Herald Journal because “there is no written policy at this time.” Reporters at KVNU, CacheValleyDaily.com and The Herald Journal plan to object to the policy. Wednesday evening on KVNU’s For the People talk show, host Tyler Riggs protested the policy, saying it would create a large barrier for the media in trying to serve as a public watchdog, but also as a participant in the flow of information from government agencies to residents in the community. An offer was extended on the show for any employees within the city to anonymously contact KVNU reporters with information they felt needed to be disseminated. Two such phone calls were made by individuals at varying levels of authority within the city Wednesday evening. Both individuals requested anonymity out of concern for their employment if they were found violating the policy. Both employees indicated they, and others in the city, were not in favor of the policy. One of the sources, a senior administrator in a city department, said they had particular concern about the policy because their department would “take the heat” from the media and the public while the decision was made by the mayor. On Wednesday, KVNU reporter Heather Bailey, who earlier had met a roadblock while seeking a police report, filed a Government Records Access Management Act public records request with the Logan Police Department. Bailey received a response to the GRAMA request within hours, but when calling police officials to clarify information in the police report, Bailey was told the department would need some time to determine how to respond to follow up questions from media while conforming with the new policy. In Watts’ responses to The Herald Journal, the question “will follow-up questions be required to be in writing?” was asked. Watts responded: “Generally yes, but common sense will apply.” City employees or others with comments, questions or other information about the policy are invited to post comments below or e-mail Tyler Riggs at firstname.lastname@example.org. Requests for anonymity will be honored with any information provided.