MORAY Council has launched an interactive ‘virtual’ newsroom as part of its website redesign.
All press releases, related news items, pictures, films and blogs will be placed in the newsroom, allowing viewers to see first-hand the council’s latest news.
As is the case with national newspaper websites, people will also be able leave comments on any of the articles, which could be responded to by the chief executive, councillors or a service manager.
A purple ‘News’ button on the council’s home page of its newly-designed website will take visitors and journalists to the new platform, from where content can be freely downloaded or shared without any copyright issues.
Launching the new site, the council’s communications officer, Peter Jones, said that it in no way replaces existing newspaper outlets.
“Moray is well-served by our local press,” he said.
“They invest in trained reporters who attend local courts and council meetings and provide an independent, objective report on what goes on. They’re 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.”
One thing it cannot do is promote a political viewpoint or party. Local government rules dictate that public money cannot be used by a council for that purpose.
The platform is optimised for mobile phones, which research shows suits more than half those accessing the internet. Contacts details for the council’s senior management team are on the site, as well as those for all the elected members.
The newsroom is completely secure for those accessing it, and has a ‘follow us’ button which sends email alerts to anyone that registers every time a new item is put into the newsroom.
Leader of the council, Cllr Stewart Cree, said that an early commitment of the administration was better communication and engagement with 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,” he said.
“I’ll 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 rom 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.”
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