Moray Council launch a new era of open news and comment

New approach to communicating with the public
New approach to communicating with the public

A NEW WEBSITE has been launched by Moray Council aimed at bringing official news and information direct to the public.

Included on the site is a ‘virtual newsroom’ where all press releases and related news, images or blogs will be placed, allowing people to see first-hand what the local authority has to say.

The Council has also taken what many would say is a brave move in allowing the public to react immediately to their news items – with any comments likely to be responded to by council officials or local councillors.

Insisting that the online newsroom is not intended to replace or compete with existing news outlets, the council communications officer Peter Jones said: “Moray is well-served by our local press, they invest in trained reporters who attend local courts and council meetings and provide an independent, objective report on what goes on.

“They are a valuable part of the democratic process and we are not trying to compete with that.

“What this newsroom does is provide a platform that allows people better and easier access to what the council believes to be newsworthy or interesting, and they can comment or ask questions too.”

The council pointed out that the new site will not promote any political viewpoint or party as local government rules dictate public money can’t be used for that purpose.

Leader of the council, Councillor Stewart Cree, said the new website was designed to provide better communication and engagement with Moray residents: “We have Facebook, Twitter and other social media – which we’ll continue to use of course – but this platform will somewhere we can offer more.

“I will happily respond to a comment on any of the articles and releases, and we can allow greater sharing of the content such as images and film, which helps publications from further afield that pick up on our press releases.

“It all helps promote Moray to a wider audience, which can only be for the good of all.”

The Editor Comments

“In many discussions with local councillors over the years I have always made the point that the council was poorly served by its approach to the media and in communicating to the general public.

“There have been recent signs that they were, at last, both listening and managing to convey that to their communications officials.  I have been more than happy to carry some ‘good news’ stories transmitted from Moray Council in recent months, something they were not good at doing in the past.

“In addition, the new policy of allowing completely free access to press releases, images and video with no copyright restrictions is particularly welcome.

“Here at insideMoray we were excluded from having the same access as the ‘mainstream’ press (although many would say that online sites such as ours are quickly becoming the ‘mainstream’). To a degree we still are – we do not receive invitations along with other media outlets to council press calls and events – despite our having a greater readership in Moray than some of those ‘mainstream’ outlets who are invited.

“It is then a very welcome move by Moray Council to open their doors a good bit wider to the public. For our part, our challenge has always been to dig out those bits of information that official channels would rather you did not hear, to reflect the views of the wide variety of people who live in Moray and not just those of elected councillors and invisible officials.

“We will continue to do that job until the Moray public make it clear they don’t need community journalists because the mainstream and official news channels are providing an unbiased, open and honest news source.”