By Stuart Thomson
Next time you see a media scrum at the Alberta legislature on television, let your eyes travel to the edge of the screen and look for the alert, voice recorder-wielding person who looks too well dressed to be a journalist.
They'll be lingering on the fringes of the scrum, listening intently, sometimes glancing nervously as the politician, the star of the show, delivers the lines.
That's a press secretary, just one of the many unsung workers trying to keep government in motion without careening off the tracks or grinding to a halt.
Like a good hockey referee, the less you notice them, the better they're doing their job. But who are they? And what do they do?
It's almost sport these days to accuse the media of being biased in favour of a political party and most journalists laugh it off. But what does it say when so many reporters pack up their stuff and take a highly partisan job with the party most identified with the left?
Critics worried journalists were auditioning for jobs with the government while still working as reporters, which would be a breach of trust in a profession that prizes its objectivity.
Former Progressive Conservative MLA and deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk says several reporters who went to government sought his advice before making the switch and he didn't hold back about what he saw as the pitfalls.
"When you wake up in the morning and you look in the mirror, do you see a journalist? If the answer is yes, are you willing to say goodbye to that?
"Because after you've embedded yourself in any government you can never be a journalist again," Lukaszuk says he told them.
More food for thought at: