Hyperlocal websites? They’re just ‘tittle tattle’ says MP

The final select committee on ‘The future for local and regional media’ took place Tuesday, with Liberal Democrat MP Adrian Sanders apparently writing off the whole of the web as being incapable of holding power to account.

Here’s some of the rather bizarre exchange with Creative Industries Minister Sion Simon, who was giving evidence before the committee (also on BBC’s Today in Parliament around 18 minutes in – worth listening to for the tone with which Sanders delivers his dismissal):

Sion Simon MP (Labour, Birmingham Erdington)
Who will go to the council? Hyper-local news-sites like Pits n Pots in Stoke on Trent will go to the council meetings – as they do. Stoke on Trent has got a successful local newspaper but it also has a very successful hyperlocal news site in Pits n Pots who, if you want to know, what’s happening in the council and behind the back stairs in the council and everything to do with local government in Stoke on Trent you’re at least as likely to go to Pits n Pots as you are to go to the Stoke Sentinel.

Adrian Sanders MP (Liberal Democrat, Torbay) – Interrupts
I’m not convinced.

Sion Simon MP (Labour, Birmingham Erdington)
The point here is that it is news that’s important and it’s scrutiny of democracy that’s important to the citizen and we need to be clear that as it migrates from one platform it migrates sometimes onto another…

Adrian Sanders MP (Liberal Democrat, Torbay) – Interrupts
But it’s not news, it’s just tittle tattle, which is what you appear to be describing as the alternative to the Stoke Sentinel which you’ve just mentioned.

Sion Simon MP (Labour, Birmingham Erdington)
Have you read Pits n Pots?

Adrian Sanders MP (Liberal Democrat, Torbay)
No [Disdainfully]

Sion Simon MP (Labour, Birmingham Erdington)
It’s frankly a bit rich of you to dismiss it as tittle tattle if you don’t know anything about it.

Adrian Sanders MP (Liberal Democrat, Torbay)
It’s a website

Sion Simon MP (Labour, Birmingham Erdington)
That doesn’t make it ….. You think that anything that’s online is tittle tattle?

Adrian Sanders MP (Liberal Democrat, Torbay)
I think, most of it …

Sion Simon MP (Labour, Birmingham Erdington)
I think that’s a ridiculous view.

Adrian Sanders MP (Liberal Democrat, Torbay)
Most of what’s online is indeed tittle tattle, and opinion.

Sion Simon MP (Labour, Birmingham Erdington)
That’s just nonsense and a ridiculous view

What is particularly ironic is that the MP’s dismissal of hyperlocal blogs as being incapable of monitoring local power should be reported verbatim by… a website. As for the commercial media, they only reported what Michael Grade had to say. Tittle tattle.

10 thoughts on “Hyperlocal websites? They’re just ‘tittle tattle’ says MP

  1. Paul Bradshaw

    David Higgerson on Twitter (http://twitter.com/davidhiggerson/statuses/6512004991) “Is one MP being so misguided actually more newsworthy than what Michael Grade said?”

    No, obviously not. But when an MP is claiming websites don’t hold power to account, I thought it was interesting that no commercial media outlet reported anything that the MPs said. The concept of what is newsworthy, for me, is broadened by the inclusion of other outlets such as blogs. That’s not to say Michael Grade isn’t newsworthy, and certainly he’s a bigger story than the MP’s comments, but that there is now space for that other material that wouldn’t have made it into print in a mass market, commercial world.

    Reply
    1. David Higgerson

      I’m probably being a little slow here, then, so apologies if I am being dense, but why mention that the commercial media didn’t mention the dismissive blog reference? If I’m understanding what you’re saying, it’s surely a case of different parts of the same session appealing to different audiences/sections of the media.

      Will’s reply from the MP is fascinating, because it appears to be a massive shift from what was said before. Proof of bloggers holding an MP to account?

      Reply
      1. Paul Bradshaw

        Yes, perhaps I shouldn’t have included the point about commercial media. It is indeed “a case of different parts of the same session appealing to different audiences/sections of the media.”
        And like you say, response to Will proves you can’t write off content based on the medium.

  2. william perrin

    i had a helpful email exchange with adrian sanders mp this morning – he concluded his mail to me as follows:

    ‘I have no doubt there is an important role for hyperlocal sites to play scrutinising local decision making – in my area we have the People’s Republic of South Devon and the satirical Westphalia on Sea websites – but I would see this as complimentary to a local newspaper, not as its replacement. A plural system is always preferable to a monopoly whether on-line or dead-tree.’

    Reply
  3. Tom

    I was amazed by that exchange too. This is why I love Today in Parliament.

    Other little titbit picked up from TiP this week: Bob Russell didn’t know why COBRA was called COBRA. I thought that was one of the best-known political trivia/pub-quiz questions around.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: links for 2009-12-10 « News, Software and All you need

  5. Pingback: Torbay MP Adrian Sanders speaks out on media reform - People's Republic of South Devon

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.