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Regional daily journalist hit by fresh Twitter ban

A regional daily which launched a “Right to Tweet” campaign has been prevented from tweeting again – this time from an employment tribunal.

The Daily Post in North Wales launched its campaign calling on all local authorities to allow reporters to tweet from meetings after journalist Steve Bagnall was hit with a ban at Wrexham County Borough Council.

Now Steve has again been prevented from tweeting live after covering an employment tribunal in Shrewsbury on Tuesday involving two senior staff members at a school who were claiming unfair dismissal.

The case has sparked a debate on Twitter about what the rules are on tweeting from tribunals and the paper is seeking a formal explanation about the reasons for its ban.

Editor Alison Gow tweeted: “Anyone aware of rules re live tweeting industrial tribunals? We’ve just been refused permission. Not come up against this before.”

Media law expert David Banks tweeted in response “Tribunals are a bit of a grey area, but why they would ban when courts have presumption in favour is a mystery. Not sure there’s any right to challenge, but would ask them to formally state reasons, to take up with tribunal service.”

In 2011, the Lord Chief Justice ruled that journalists should be allowed to update their followers from courts across England and Wales without having to seek the prior permission of the judge, but it is not clear whether this also applied to tribunals.

The paper is now awaiting a response from the National Tribunal Service, which is looking into the issue.

Dan Owen, executive editor for digital at the title, said: “It shows a general lack of understanding across the board about what people are trying to do and it highlights the campaign very nicely.

“Fingers crossed we can get some kind of resolution so there’s some form of protocol about it.”

The tribunal involved the case of Bernie Routledge, the former head of Howell’s School, and former PE head Helen Price and it ruled the pair were unfairly dismissed.

The Daily Post’s Right to Tweet campaign was set up following a spate of instances where local authorities imposed Twitter bans on journalists.

Following the launch of the campaign, a scrutiny group from Wrexham County Borough Council is examining whether the authority should allow tweeting from its meetings.

8 comments

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  • March 13, 2013 at 9:17 am
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    These Twitter moans by papers are getting a bit tiresome. What would be more useful to know is exactly how many people would be reading their messages to discover – minute by minute – what is happening at an industrial tribunal? My guess is hardly any at all. Just because technology allows us to do something doesn’t actually mean that it has to be done.

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  • March 13, 2013 at 10:25 am
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    Tweeting from tribunals or court sounds like a recipe for disaster legally.

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  • March 13, 2013 at 11:04 am
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    It’s these folks obsessed with bloody twitter who badly need to get a life. As Observer50 ‘observes’, who really cares?

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  • March 13, 2013 at 12:34 pm
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    A lot of people care, I should think. If it were in my town, and better yet if it were a school my kids attended or where my friends worked, I’d be following the tweets. I’d definitely be interested in what was happening live, rather than waiting for a full report several hours, or even a day or more, later.

    Dismissing tweeters as people “who badly need to get a life” just shows how out of touch some journalists are with the way people communicate and interact these days. If that’s how they want to read news, that’s how they’ll read it – even if you don’t think they should.

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  • March 13, 2013 at 1:14 pm
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    Amen XJP. The times, they are a’changing, as Bob Dylan once sung.

    Anything that can be done to engage with your readership should be done. Lets face it, they’re not going to get the full story from twitter, no matter how many tweets they see. Having had their interest piqued they’ll want to visit the paper’s website or buy a copy to find out more.

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  • March 13, 2013 at 2:35 pm
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    If you can tweet from court then there’s no reason why the petty dictators in industrial tribunals and such like should forbid tweets from their little fiefdoms. I followed the guardian’s tweets from the huhne sentencing and it was very interesting. The main tweeter couldn’t spell the word ‘licence’ and misheard ‘strenuous’ for ‘generous’ so we had huhne denying something ‘in the most generous terms.’ The website coverage later, and the print version, were subbed and correct. I came to the view that the tweet coverage was a different kind of animal and you had to accept the mistakes and move on. It’s just so immediate. Papers are right to fight for this right.
    My football reporter tweeted that the town’s team turned up for a (non league) away match and were currently having a wee in a quiet corner of the car park. First with the news!

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  • March 13, 2013 at 2:38 pm
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    So when did it become acceptable for journalists not to challenge their right to report public hearings?
    Is it okay for others to tell journalists when and how they cover the news?If so, do we put down our pens when asked to by a committee chairman?
    Seems to me this is more about what we stand for than tweeting.

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  • March 13, 2013 at 3:02 pm
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    Good campaign.
    Public meetings should be open, so what’s wrong with Tweeting from them?
    As long as usual rules on accuracy etc apply, there shouldn’t be any issues.

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