Sunday Comment: Thurrock’s Social Media Army on the march
Date posted: 16-09-2012
ON WEDNESDAY, a YT reporter attended, as usual at a council meeting. The press desk has always had a sign that read “PRESS”. The sign has now been changed to read “MEDIA”.
It may be a sign of the times. Last month, the secretary of state for local govt, Eric Pickles said that new regulations, will ensure greater public scrutiny and give bloggers and users of social media much more access to council meetings.
It illustrates the changing face of news gathering and news reporting.
On December 26th, 2008, YT joined Twitter. Since then we have gained (to date) 3,380 followers. The Thurrock tweeters have become an essential part of our news gathering service.
Javelinsam often tweets photos of potholes and poor parking as well as making a number of pertinent comments on commuting life.
Tom Stronach, Myles Cook are just two of the bloggers who have embraced the medium to create quite a debate on a number of issues whilst Terry Jane Butler has gained national coverage over her campaign over disabled access during the paralympics.
GeorgieGirl keeps her eyes and ears open. Sometimes it is simple as “What is that noise?” tweet (Sat 15th 9pm). A few retweets and you find out it is fireworks at Arena Essex.
Organisations are also using twitter to advertise events and thereby create the instant NIB (news in brief). Fetes in Corringham primary and Shaw primary at the weekend gained good coverage by using twitter.
Whilst charities and social action groups such as Thurrock Foodbank, Thurrock Lunch Club and a number of faith groups are embracing the new media.
Some organisations have started having q and a sessions: Last week the Essex Police helicopter had a twitter press conference which answered many interesting questions.
Their ability to get their message out contrasts with other organisations that seem to be stuck in 1952. YT attended the Corringham and Fobbing Community Forum last Monday. DP World made a presentation, the Directors of Finance from Thurrock Council were there with a key presentation on council tax; two police officers gave a run down on crime stats. Three councillors, several council officers etc…….and they spoke to ten members of the public.
What will happen to that info? Heaven knows. The website is about four years out of date. The minutes will no doubt appear in a few months time. They are populated by well intentioned people but they almost glory in their technophobia.
So, will council meetings now be invaded by the Thurrock twitterati. Maybe not but they may well appear when a single issue emerges and they can use the full force of the information superhighway. How many other councils have changed their sign like Thurrock Council?
It may prove to be interesting times. Only a few short months ago, Thurrock Tories were busting a gut to prevent the recording of a historically significant moment in the council chamber. Apres moi le deluge………..