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March 29 2010

10:50

Heather Brooke: ‘PR is infecting public institutions and destroying our democracy’

In the latest extract of Heather Brooke’s book, ‘The Silent State’, published in the Mail on Sunday yesterday, the investigative journalist looks at the effect of PR in public institutions.

On council-run newspapers:

My prediction is this: the more officials take over the news the more our money will be wasted. Scrutiny by the public keeps the powerful honest.

And on trying to reach officials:

PR people have manoeuvred themselves to the top of the political pole. Even senior managers have to get clearance from the Press office to speak to the public.

Full post at this link…

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February 02 2010

09:38

Salford Star: Council newspaper costing £27,797 a month – what impact on local news?

Figures released by a Freedom of Information request made by the Salford Star suggest that Salford Council’s Life in Salford magazine is costing £27,797 per month, the title reports.

The Star asks what the production of the magazine and the council’s expenditure on it mean for local news outlets – the Salford Advertiser has recently withdrawn free home delivery from more postcode areas, while the Star “struggles to get back into print”:

While the Salford Star and the Salford Advertiser are only available free online, an estimated two thirds of Salford’s population do not have access to the internet.

The only free printed information people are now getting about their city comes courtesy of Salford City Council and its Life in Salford magazine. With no criticism of the Council, no debate, no accountability, low quality content and bucket loads of public money showered all over it…

Full story at this link…

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December 15 2009

10:11

PCC should not regulate Council-run newspapers, says finance board

As part of its industry consultation,  the Press Standards Board of Finance Ltd (PressBoF) has decided that local authority publications should not be brought within the remit of the Press the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).

“It has decided against doing so on the basis that such publications tend to be marketing material,” the board announced today.

PressBoF, independent of the PCC, is responsible for raising a levy on the newspaper and magazine industry to finance the Commission. Its industry consultation also decided that online-only publications – mainly magazine sites – should come under the PCC’s remit.

“It’s one of those things, we’re conscious there are a reasonable number of local authority publications out there,” PressBoF secretary, Jim Raeburn told Journalism.co.uk. “Should they be under umbrella of PCC or not?” The board’s decision, he said, was no.

PressBoF, independent of the PCC, is responsible for raising a levy on the newspaper and magazine industry to finance the Commission.

In late November, Ed Richards, chief executive of Ofcom, told the House of Commons culture media and sport select committee that the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has no remit on authority publications:

“This is a lacuna. If this is a serious issue from the perspective of (a) the use of taxpayers’ money and (b) the consequences for independent journalism in any given locality, I think it is something that Parliament has to decide what it wants to do about.

“Either the government needs to give some guidance, or give somebody else the responsibility to look at it, but at the moment, we [Ofcom] certainly do not, and nor do the OFT.”

Stewart Purvis, content regulation partner for Ofcom, who was also giving evidence, said: “I just feel there is a missing area, which is the regulation, if that is the right word, of what local authorities do and do not do.

“I am reminded of the case of the former Mayor of London who, if I remember, got into trouble with some supervisory body over what he should or should not have said to an Evening Standard reporter.”

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