31 July 2014

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Success for regional daily’s ‘Right to Tweet’ campaign

A regional daily’s campaign for councils to allow tweeting from meetings has seen success after two authorities agreed a new social media policy.

The Daily Post in North Wales launched its Right to Tweet campaign in January after Wrexham County Borough Council prevented reporter Steve Bagnall from tweeting at a meeting.

Flintshire County Council has now agreed the use of social media like Twitter and Facebook at all open meetings to allow journalists, councillors and the public to communicate live what is happening.

The move has been welcomed by the paper, which said it would boost transparency, and follows a decision by North Wales Fire Authority to allow social media at meetings.

Executive editor Andy Gilpin said: “This is great news as we continue our Right to Tweet campaign.

“The endorsement of social media use from both meetings of North Wales Fire Authority and now Flintshire council shows those in authority are finally catching up.

“Allowing the press and public to openly report what they hear in these public forums is a true step for transparency in our democratic process.”

A survey of editors published by the Newspaper Society this week found that the number of local newspapers using Twitter to report from public meetings has nearly tripled in three years – 57pc in 2013 compared to 21pc in 2010.

The paper hopes other councils will follow suit and Wrexham County Borough Council is due to decide its social media policy by the end of May.

The protocol approved by Flintshire councillors allows tweets and social media updates but with a code of conduct saying the meeting’s business should not be affected and councillors should give due attention to the debates.

At the Flintshire County Council meeting where the policy was approved, chief executive Colin Everett said the authority had been in discussions with the other five North Wales councils to roll out the protocol.

He said: “There has been some coverage about this over the last few months and whether the public can use Twitter or Facebook to give their own view of what is happening.

“We have worked with the other five North Wales local authorities to present a version of this protocol to their AGMS. And we should do this together because we need to become more modern.”

5 Comments

  1. Sub a dub dub

    ‘Success’ is a bit much, did Flintshire Council actually refuse at all? And Wrexham still not playing ball?

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  2. Observer50

    Congratulations to all. Yet another way of killing off newspapers by giving the news away free of charge. Still, I don’t suppose that very many people will be spending their leisure time following the tweets!

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  3. Kendo Nagasaki

    “There has been some coverage about this over the last few months and whether the public can use Twitter or Facebook to give their own view of what is happening.”

    Surely if people genuinely cared about what was being discussed they would actually go to the meetings? This will just be another opportunity for the green ink brigade to vent their spleen.

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  4. XJP

    Observer50 – If used effectively, it’s actually a pretty good sales tool for the paper. Give the basic details, outline the more interesting points (fights between councillors etc) and make sure people know they can get more in the paper.
    Besides which, if the paper’s not tweeting this kind of thing, you can guarantee someone else will. If people are going to find out through social media, better to make sure it’s the paper’s social media they get it from. Twitter creates a really strong link with a lot of readers which can only help in these difficult times.

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  5. Observer50

    Sorry XJP I don’t buy that argument. Local newspaper sales are in freefall and I can’t think of a single paper, currently using Twitter, where sales are going up.
    In many years of reporting I can’t recall a council meeting where elected members ended up having a fight – and I certainly can’t think of anyone sad enough to spend their evenings following the tweets of a planning committee, just in case there’s a scrap!

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