If you heard that an airport required journalists to give it 24 hours' notice prior to visiting the airport — and that the airport authority might decline the request for whatever reason — where would you think that airport would be situated? North Korea? Cuba? China? How about Toronto?
Yes, these are the new media rules for Pearson International Airport, a.k.a., the world’s worst airport. Oh, and if a journalist gets approved, he or she will be “escorted” around the airport so that the escort can “monitor“ the line of questioning. Unbelievable. We sent out some questions to the Greater Toronto Airport Authority (72 hours ahead of our visit, by the way.) Nobody got back to us! Here are our questions, nevertheless:
1. What is the ostensible policy reason for these new guidelines?
2. Who is responsible for drafting these guidelines?
3. Why was this deemed necessary? In my entire career as a journalist, I (and my colleagues) have simply shown up to the airport to report on stories without any sort of consent. Why is this any different now?
4. Is this perhaps a response to the deluge of bad publicity Pearson has received due to being named the worst airport in the world?
5. What is the purpose of an escort monitoring the journalist's work inside the airport?
6. What possible reason would your team come up with to deny permission to a news organization to report on a story?
7. How is it possible to abide by these regulations -- especially the 24 hours' notice stipulation -- when it comes to breaking news (i.e., a plane crash)?
Nobody from the control freaks who make up the friendly neighbourhood “GTAA Media Relations team” got back to us. So we showed up anyway — without permission or approval or an escort monitoring our interviews. We reckon if they don’t even have the professional courtesy to get back to us, then we’ll just interpret that we are indeed approved after all…Thanks for nothing.