A challenge to Open Democracy – Bloggers excluded from council’s Twitter accreditation

I have read with great interest an article and supporting posts about Tameside Councils decision to accredit professional journalists and allow them to tweet live within council meetings and in effect ban anyone else from doing so.

A council in the north of England has taken the unusual step of accrediting professional journalists to report from meetings using Twitter in a move that in effect bans local bloggers.

The decision by Tameside council means that local bloggers, members of the public and even their own councillors are not permitted to tweet because they are not members of the press as defined in law by the Local Government Act of 1972.

via Bloggers excluded from council’s Twitter accreditation | Media | guardian.co.uk.

Now I’m guessing here that Tameside Council may have taken a different view if they were webcasting their meetings live like Devon County Council and many others do.

The use of the Local Government Act 1972 to in effect reduce the ability of even the councillors themselves from tweeting from within the meeting seems a step too far. Details of the Councils Official response can be found here.

Any council who is currently webcasting their meetings would find the same decision impossible to impose, unless they stop webcasting their meetings to the public. The challenge of course in this scenario is that anyone from around the world can effectively tweet live whilst watching the “live” webcast or even comment after the event via the archive.

So I guess my question related to this is:  Are we really using the act to manage the supposed abuse of twitter? Or are Tameside Council trying to solve another problem relating to individuals and what they say?

Either way, I am concerned about the longer term implications should other councils see this as a way to “control the message” and restrict the opportunities to engage and participate in local politics and decision-making.

This feels like we are going back to a “behind closed doors” approach which is in my opinion “anti social” and not very “democratic”.

The challenge here is that we need to support councils and more importantly reach the staff working inside to better understand the potential of these tools to increase participation and involvement in local politics and decision making.   We also need to have an effective discussion in the wider public sector about the role social tools can play in shaping public services.

Likeminds 2010 – First thoughts and reflections

On Friday i attended the second Likeminds event in Exeter. This post will purely be my first thoughts and reflections as i know from attending the first event last year that many more thoughts will evolve, along with blog posts over the coming weeks.

So here goes with the random thoughts and observations and in no particular order:

Don’t become a friend of a brand, local government knows this all to well a previous post and Dave Briggs will always say this if you hear him speak. Why would you become a friend of a council or local authority

Acknowledgement is key to building connections and valuing people – One of the key take aways from Chris Brogan

Government is one of the hardest places to do social media (Thanks to Olivier Blanchard for acknowledging this), so let’s celebrate those that have done excellent work in the sector.

We need to remember that strategy development is game play and we need to model future scenarios more

Olivier Blanchard‘s talk on operationalising social communications was excellent and very relevant but social communications is too narrow a term for  government at this point in time – what should it be?

Joanne Jacobs is inspirational, Australian and managed not to swear 🙂

Jonathan Akwue understands the challenge in government and has done real grassroots stuff with netmums around service design.

Chris brogan reminded us that we all want to feel special and that we all want to be noticed – acknowledgement

Where is learning from all sectors being collated and shared?

If local government became social how would comms, PR and marketing deal with the devolution of messages?

The role of councillors is challenged in a social organisational structure – More to come on this subject over the comin weeks along with some thoughts and reflections on the Virtual Town Hall Pilot Project.

Will government be left behind because of all these challenges or will the change be forced and be even more painful for those who haven’t engaged?

Internal comms is dead, internal community management is now critical to organisations. Managing internal information and knowledge flow is critical for managing external social media usage. You can’t effectively deliver external engagement without solving internal communications an offering a social hub to support the knowledge sharing across silos.

We need to start really exploring the wider business impacts of adopting social media in local government and sharing the thinking around this subject.

Social media should plug in and add value and not your brand or org plugged into social media missing the point

What really is a conversation in this space and can orgsanisation be part of that – no – but the people in organisations can be part of that.

Still a huge challenge for some people around the issue of  personal vs business profiles.

Young employees might understand the tools but may not understand the business – critical to connect people internally.

Paul Clarke is a great photographer – you can see his likeminds photos as well as many others here