Premier Andrew Fahie should start holding regular press conferences that give journalists a chance ask about topics of their choosing.
Though Mr. Fahie occasionally has met with the media about specific matters since he took up the premiership almost four months ago, he has not usually, if ever, opened the floor to general questions.
In this respect, he is falling behind his predecessor: Former premier Dr. Orlando Smith held general press conferences every month or two on a fairly regular basis throughout most of his eight years in office.
Mr. Fahie should follow suit, starting now. Doing so would help the press do its job of holding the government accountable by asking questions the public wants to know. It would also help Mr. Fahie prove that he is serious about the promises of transparency and accountability that he and his party made during the campaign season.
To his credit, the premier has made himself available to the public fairly frequently through community meetings and social media appearances, especially during contentious times like the recent belongership debate. These appearances are valuable, and he should keep it up.
But he also needs to face the media regularly, especially given the fast pace of the changes he has implemented since taking office, many of which have not been adequately explained.
Ideally, we would like to see general press conferences with the premier scheduled once a month with plenty of advance notice. Perhaps he could even set aside a regular time for the purpose. And in the event that he ever finds himself unable to attend, he could pre-schedule an alternative.
While he’s at it, he should appoint a director of communications, filling a key position that has been vacant for nearly a year.
Meanwhile, all the other government ministers should also hold regular press conferences in order to field questions on topics under their portfolios. They might, for example, hold the sessions on a rotating basis, with a different minister or junior minister presiding every two to three weeks.
Since the election, government has issued countless press releases about ministers’ work, and many have appeared on social media or in public meetings. But like the premier, they too need to face the media on a regular basis.
Communication, after all, is a two-way street.