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Regional news site barred from filming or photographing Theresa May visit

A regional news website was barred from photographing or filming Theresa May during an election campaign visit to its patch yesterday.

Cornwall Live says it was told the ban was put in place due to it being considered as ‘print media’ – despite the fact that it is a 24/7 website.

The site has also reported that its journalists were barred by the Prime Minister’s press team from being allowed to ask Mrs May about why the restriction was put in place.

All journalists present at the industrial estate in Helston, which Mrs May visited, were allowed two questions each for the PM before being ushered out of an interview room.

Theresa May during this morning's visit

Theresa May during this morning’s visit

In a live blog covering the event, the site’s head of live Gareth Bartlett wrote: “Having covered several high-profile politicians’ and royal visits over the years, the level of media control here is far and above anything I’ve seen before.

“We’re not even allowed to show you her visiting the building.”

He added: “We’ve been allowed to ask our questions to the prime minister (although we are forbidden to film or photograph her answering them).

“We were given at most three minutes and were refused to be allowed to ask why we were not allowed to film her.  Our reporter Lyn [Barton] was then ushered out of the room.”

Cornwall Live deputy head of content Steve Smith later tweeted that the ban on photographing or filming the PM  had been put in place because the site is considered “print media”.

Head of content Jeff Reines added: “We weren’t allowed to film her and our reporters were even locked in a room. Democracy in action that is.”

Jacqui Merrington, the digital editor of Cornwall Live, said the restriction showed an old-fashioned attitude towards the media.

She told Media Guardian: “It feels like either contempt or a lack of understanding of what we do in the local press generally. You can’t expect any local media to be entirely print-focused now and not have any digital element.”

The Tories’ move also received criticism from the wider industry. Former Oxford Mail editor Simon O’Neill, who now edits Hampshire Life, said: “This happens everywhere she goes. Doesn’t bode well.”

Jonathan Walker, political editor of the Birmingham Post & Mail and Newcastle Chronicle & Journal, added: “I may be biased but advice to any party doing a visit is to treat the local paper reporters like kings and queens for a day.”

A spokesman for the Conservative Party said: “One media organisation’s last minute request to add a camera to a pre-arranged pool of broadcast cameras was not possible this morning. The organisation’s journalists did interview the Prime Minister and their photographer accompanied the Prime Minister on a factory tour.

“Theresa May has so far taken four times as many questions from journalists as floundering Jeremy Corbyn while his cabinet can’t even answer basic questions about how they would pay for his nonsensical policies.”


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  • May 2, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    ‘ locked in a room’ ?
    Bit strong of the tories if they’re now resorting to holding scribes hostage.
    Looking at the photo to accompany this piece though she does look as bored as, even so It’s a slap in the face if the PM sees no merit or news worthiness m in local print publications any longer.
    Long live digital and all the money that brings in, that’ll save the industry!

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  • May 2, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    If all the publications turned on the PM after knocks, with negative stories. The advisers will soon change their tact.

    Although having read the story on Cornwall Live, there are photos of her visit, you got to speak to her. If you supplied staff with proper video equipment rather than mobile phones. You could have got quality footage from the roadside of her leaving. The problem with mobile phone videoing is that you have to be very close to do it, and reporters doing so always get in the way of photographers, local TV and are generally a nuisance doing so for everyone around.

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  • May 2, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    I’m sorry, but Jonathan Walker, political editor of the Birmingham Post & Mail and Newcastle Chronicle & Journal??????
    Please tell that’s a typo?
    And it was not different under Major or Bliar. And journalists like myself who asked questions they didn’t like were put on a naughty list and refused future opportunities to challenge PMs AND ministers.
    Oh, to be an important press officer :(

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  • May 2, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    No wonder they get away with it. Stop being so wet and stand up for press freedom.

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  • May 3, 2017 at 6:24 am

    If this isn’t a case of over exaggeration about being locked in a room then it’ should be the main story of the piece surely?
    When they say ‘locked’ were they imprisined? Or just ushered to one side? There’s a vast and setiius difference, or is this just over the top self importance by TM
    Sensationalism, a serious allegation or just a nothing story?

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  • May 3, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    I think Johnnie has missed the point somewhat. Whether they were physically able to escape is hardly the issue here – the point is that May is consistently avoiding public and media scrutiny. And, as a veteran of several past campaigns, this is the worst I’ve seen from any party.

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  • May 3, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    I’ve worked on both sides of this type of visit and all media present for a PM visit will generally be confirmed the day before – adding a camera at the 11th hour, especially when there’s pool footage, just doesn’t happen.

    Sounds like a fuss over nothing from a team not used to dealing with campaigning politicians.

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