I’ve had a couple of conversations recently about the difficult relationships some organisations have with the media and the frustration this causes.
Problems cited will be familiar to most who work in a local authority press office or deal with the same journalists regularly. Placing a negative slant on every story about your employer, being at loggerheads over a controversial issue or having your full and detailed briefing relegated to footnote status on a negative story are just some things to cause headaches. Occasionally, this can get bad enough for journalists to be blanked by a press office (that happened to me when I was a reporter). Continue reading “If the relationship’s broken do try to fix it”→
The recent decision by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee to reject Eric Pickles‘ proposals to restrict the publication of council newspapers has reopened a debate on the role such publications should play.
In one corner is the Government, which is strongly critical of councils spending public funds on ‘town hall pravdas’ that they see as little better than propaganda magazines. They are supported by regional and local newspaper publishers who cite them as a threat to their businesses because some charge advertising revenue and publish weekly editions, putting them in direct competition with their papers. Publications like H&F Newsand East End Life (both published by London authorities) are cited of evidence of this trend.
Whilst researching something the other day, I came across a post on a council website that you rarely see (the authority will remain nameless, although it may be obvious to any staff who read this).
In the news section was a headline that read something like: ‘What you didn’t read this week in the [local newspaper]’. It was linked to two items, venting frustration at treatment of the council by the local press. One post complained a response to a story was not used in full (despite being sent in before deadline). Another stated that a letter from an employee in response to an article had not been published.
I can understand – and have experienced as a journalist – the frustration councils feel when the media turns the heat on them. And there is definitely a role for using your website to engage a wide range of people and different media, particularly in a fast moving crisis. But there is rarely (if ever) cause for airing your frustration with a local paper to all who visit your website. Here are three reasons why.