Friday, 19 August 2011

Thanet District Council and the late news.


Why would the council not want people to read their press releases? This is an update to yesterday’s post, which I concede was a bit confusing.

As some of you will remember back in June the council decided to stop sending press releases out to media sources that they considered unaccredited.

I have been making a fuss about this on and off since they did so and the main responses I have got about this issue from the council are at http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2011/07/thanet-district-councils-response-to.html

The council’s take on this one is that they have replaced sending out press release emails with a news feed, the problem here though is that the council news feed doesn’t work properly.

The idea of this news feed is that every time the council put a press release on their website it sends out a signal, so that all of the people who would have received the press release before now get the notification.

If this worked properly the press release would appear with the other local news on the sidebar of this and other blogs.

So yesterday at about 11 am the press release about their being more boats in Ramsgate harbour would have popped to the top of my sidebar. Then at lunchtime the one about the new enterprise zone would have appeared. Later at about tea time the one about refusing the new development at Ramsgate’s Granville marina should have appeared.

What actually happened was nothing until the middle of last night when the council’s website suddenly started churning out signals saying that there were new press releases, this is some of it:

2:28 AM (7 hours ago)
Marina berth numbers
2:28 AM (7 hours ago)
Enterprise zone announcement
1:29 AM (8 hours ago)
Arches plans refused
12:33 AM (9 hours ago)
Marina berth numbers
12:33 AM (9 hours ago)
Arches plans refused
12:33 AM (9 hours ago)
Enterprise zone announcement

For me the really irritating thing is that we are all paying for this and yes I accept that the council are doing what they said they would do in feeding their press releases, the problem is feeding them all in the middle of the night when hardly anyone is likely to read them.

Certainly this repeated sending of the same press release feeds at different time confuses feed reading programs that are inclined to treat them as spam. The latest posts thing on my sidebar seems to have taken the first time the last thing fed first appeared as the time stamp so the councils last press release is time stamped as yesterday i.e. well down the sidebar out of site and below all today’s other news.

What is questionable is whether this has happened by accident or design, by this I mean is the intention to conceal news about the council, obviously this is what they have achieved.   

12 comments:

  1. The TDC frontpage hasnt been updating as quickly either. The easy solution for readers is to click on the RSS feed link on your browser, then copy the URL off the stories you are interested in. Not very difficult but might take a moment to find the stories as itll look like gobbledegook.

    The argument about the Council concealing news about itself doesnt make sense Michael.

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  2. James I think perhaps you have missed the vital point, which is that this isn’t a criticism of the councils press releases, but a criticism of the notification, or in this case the lack of notification that the council have made a press release.

    This system was supposed to replace the sending out of bulk emails to notify us, something that didn’t cost the council anything, where I approve of the council having feeds to, to stop sending out the emails before the feeds work reliably just doesn’t make sense.

    I do see what you are getting at about the argument that the council are trying conceal their press releases, but to a reader of this blog, Cllr Moors’s blog or any of the others that display the council’s news feeds, this is what they have achieved.

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  3. Strangely (though perhaps not unexpectedly in their case) some press releases appear on the TDC FaceBook Page & some don't.

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  4. I see what you mean Peter, I had a similar problem and resolved it by using networked blogs, so now all my blog posts appear on my Facebook wall.

    Fraid Facebook is something I have never really mastered, I just about get time to produce the odd blog post.

    Right from the start when I tried to get the council to put up their press releases with accompanying pictures – something we pay for but seldom see – I recommended that they embedded a blog in the TDC website and used it for press releases, as this would have overcome all their problems and wouldn’t have cost anything, I guess this is yet another reason for doing so.

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  5. seems some of us need to 'get a life'

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  6. Seems some people need to do their job (which they're paid by us to do) properly.

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  7. Dear James,

    On this blog you'll be told "your missing the vital point" on a regular basis, watch out for spellin mistakes as these will also be highlighted oh and don't expect acceptance of your point of view.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Dear Peter,

    When TDC publish there accounts maybe they should specifically note the time and cost of Michael's constant questions and demands, you never know if a cap was imposed there might be some money available to improve the live of mere mortal Thanet folk! There may even be enough to have road swept, weeding of our pavements, etc.

    Only a thought..

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  9. Paid my first visit to the Turner today. OMG. How have they got away with this? It's an empty shed. Why is nobody in a position of authority concerned about this? it looks like a modern day example of the emperor's new clothes.

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  10. 19 August 2011 20:54

    An interesting hypothesis but very wrong as you as an ex Cllr/officer would know.

    I have requested very legally to inspect some of the TDC's accounts (EKO) yet TDC have acted in an inappropriate manner (complaint has gone to the ICO) that would have cost the tax payer however we employ these people anyway and as its a statutory obligation your comments are quite erroneous and have no value.

    So as one of the commentators keep stating you too should "Get a life"

    The real Malcolm

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  11. Mal I think the difficulty here is based on the misunderstanding that myriad officers employed by the council in their IT, information, foi and press departments in fact virtually every officer with a desk, is producing information primarily for the local council tax and business ratepayers who pay their wages.

    I don’t think many of them would be too keen on 20.54s suggestion that they would be better employed cleaning the streets.

    What this post is supposed to be about is the press release problem and talking to one of the press offices about this yesterday, I noted that she didn’t seem to keen on the press releases, that she had laboriously researched and written, being splurged on mass onto the internet in the small hours of the morning when very few people would read them.

    22.59 I periodically post on the Turner Contemporary, see http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/search/label/The%20Turner%20Contemporary some of which you may find interesting.

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  12. Indeed Michael, I have just asked (under FOI) TDC for a press review - to see the press office log for a certain week when a local paper did not accurately report a matter?

    It is going to be interesting to say the least. Inaccurate reporting in Thanet goes a lot deeper than people realise - and no this is not conspiracy theory I only deal in facts, before the ex Cllrs and TDC luvvies start slagging me off!!

    ReplyDelete

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