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Council dubbed ‘Ministry of Spin’ in media protocol review

A council dubbed the “Ministry of Spin” by a recently-launched weekly newspaper is examining its media protocols after a government review.

As previously reported by HoldtheFrontPage, the Welsh Local Government Association had told Carmarthenshire County Council to “respect” the role of local newspapers in a report into transparency at the authority.

The report expressed concern at how the authority had dealt with local journalists following several run-ins between its officials, members of the press and local bloggers in recent years.

This week a review of the council’s press and media protocol was presented to its executive board and will now go before the full council.


Last Friday, the Carmarthenshire Herald ran a front page editorial, pictured above, in which it claimed the authority had “sought to bully and intimidate” the press – a reference to the council withdrawing advertising from the South Wales Guardian in 2012 following a critical article.

The edition also carried an article by blogger Jacqui Thompson, in which she claimed the council had “attempted to deter investigative journalism”.

She was ordered to pay £25,000 damages to the chief executive after losing a libel suit in March 2013 and had been arrested two years prior to that for filming a council meeting.

In its editorial, the Herald claimed: “In Carmarthenshire, the council has sought to bully and intimidate the press by either threatening to cut off its advertising revenue or actually cutting its expenditure in local press.

“Using its financial muscle it has encouraged other pubic sector bodies with which it has a relationship to do likewise.

“The Herald will not be bought off or bullied into submission, however, and if misguided people within the council think it will they need to know we will not rest in pursuing real news stories and investigating real issues.”

Among the WLGA’s specific recommendations from the report, which was published in November, were that the council clarified its policy on advertising through local media and reviewed its approach on public engagement.

Cllr Pam Palmer, the council’s executive board member with responsibility for communications, said: “The policy and resources scrutiny committee have been reviewing the press and media protocol – as they review all policies from time to time – and a cross-party working group was set up for this purpose.

“It is now going through the political process, and will go to full council in due course.”

The independently-owned Herald published its first edition in March, having been founded as a sister title to the Pembrokeshire Herald and the also recently-formed Llanelli Herald.


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  • May 15, 2015 at 6:51 am

    With fewer and fewer journalists covering council meetings the public will in future discover only a fraction of what actually goes on in Town/County halls the length and breadth of the country. In many areas police, fire and ambulance services (funded by the taxpayer) are already “secret services”.

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  • May 15, 2015 at 11:58 am

    I don’t think anybody cares these days Grassroots. Council meetings I covered were very often pearls before swine, most people only want to know about a council story if it reinforces their own preconceptions – i.e wasting money on iPads instead of filling in potholes etc, if it’s not super critical – then your’e in the council’s pocket.

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  • May 15, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    That depends, Jeff Jones, on how good a journalist you are

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  • May 18, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    Arrested for filming a council meeting? Whether it’s permitted or not, this tells you just where we are when it comes to press freedom in this country…

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