Monday, 27 June 2011

When does a public WCC agenda document become news? Make up your own mind, bit of a read this one...

12 become 5?
A few weeks ago I posted The Rights And Responsibilities of Citizens (...yes I know you claim to have seen it, but cannot remember a word). Never mind, here's your chance to try it out. Have a look at the graphic on the left - ever seen it before? Nope, nor did I (and it was sitting right under our noses).

This is how news happens - or doesn't (in this case). A week ago today, we heard about WCC downsizing some buildings from 12 to 5, remember that? My guess, you probably do.This is how it panned out and got missed. My question - When should of it become News?

New Warwick Library?
As a timeline and in-line with WCC's policy of publishing a meeting agenda around five working days before a meeting, this post hit the WCC website (8 June 2011) WCC Cabinet 16 June 2011, 1.45pm Committee Room 2 With Item 9 Property Rationalisation as a downloadable document.

So, that's the first time you could have seen these plans (in a packed agenda of twelve items which also included Transforming the Youth Services). There are also a few artist impressions of what the relocated Warwick Library may look like.

So, forward eight few days to Thursday 16 June 2011 at 1.45 when I arrive at Shire Hall, attend the meeting and live tweet the Youth Service issue. I leave Shire Hall, and listen in to BBC Tim Boswell's interview with Councillor Heather Timms that evening.

Then, four days later WCC News release Cabinet approves savings on Council accommodation (Mon 20 June 2011) and very soon after BBC News Warwickshire Council to move staff and close buildings (20 June 4.16pm) with Coventry Telegraph Warwick Library to move into council HQ as part of £4m cuts (Tuesday 21 June 2011). 

What are the conclusions? On 8 June 2011 when the meeting agenda (and 34 page document) went live - how many people actually read it? I hold my hands up as it slipped past me. I was in the meeting room at Shire Hall and was even handed an A4, inch thick wedge of papers. I knew why I was there (Youth) and then promptly left.

It seems quite apparent that no other media organisation reported anything until WCC News on Monday 20 June 2011. Although I am no real fan of Churnalism.com, a quick copy and paste and may indicate BBC News (and others) acted from the WCC News press release (Churmaism.com WCC savings on Property) - none of us need to be Sherlock Holmes to figure that out.

Finally, is there a moral to this story? I think so. Information is everywhere, so much so - we miss it. Cutbacks are everywhere including news organisations which miss information and do not really attend meetings any more (to find out more, just read Flat Earth News by Nick Davies). 

And as for me, I'm new to this, but learn very fast. If there is a WCC Meeting in the morning, and there is, shall I attend and report it live or sit back and wait the week until someone else does?

Q: When does this public WCC agenda document become news? Make up your own mind: 8, 16 (including the cabinet decision at the meeting) or 20 June 2011?

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