If you want to monitor local authorities, we’ll ask the locals for you

Local authorities matter. They provide many of the most basic public services: schools, roads, refuse collections and recycling, social services, planning and benefits administration. They are the part of government you would notice first, if they stopped working. In many areas of Britain, a council is the largest employer, and with their elected members, local authorities are arguably the most democratic type of public sector organisation.

But they are tricky to follow. Journalists trying to cover councils nationally suffer from being based mainly in one place, London, from lack of resources and from the sheer number of authorities.

The exceptions are journalists who work for locally-focused publishers. Despite falling advertising and circulation income, it is still local and regional newspapers, broadcasters and online publishers that produce the best coverage of local authorities.

As a result, while it is easy to keep tabs on your own council, if you want to track local authorities nationwide – as a councillor or official keen to learn from your peers, or a supplier seeking new opportunities – you would need to monitor many hundreds of sources.

So let Council News Monitor do the job for you. It’s a new email service, sent first thing every weekday morning, with articles and press releases from councils in all nine English regions, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland – or, as the four nations can safely be called again, the United Kingdom. Continue reading

Posted in Articles, Councils, Media, Scotland, The North, The South West | Comments Off

NHS Scotland independence for Guardian, updates on Beacon

Today and tomorrow, I will be writing updates on Scotland’s referendum on independence every few hours for Beacon. To clarify, in the title ‘The end of Britain, possibly – LIVE!’, Britain refers to the country also known as the UK, not the islands we’re sitting on just off the north-west coast of Europe…

Whatever happens, the sun is going to rise over the islands tomorrow morning. Possibly behind some clouds, but that’s normal.

Below is my piece for Guardian Healthcare Professionals, published on Tuesday, looking at how NHS Scotland may fare under independence. Continue reading

Posted in Articles, Healthcare, Hospitals, NHS finance, NHS jobs, Scotland | Comments Off

Scottish independence & IT: skilled immigrants yes, banks no?

With a week to go to the vote on Scottish independence, The Register has published a lengthy piece by me on the potential impact of independence on ICT companies and professionals.

The most interesting argument from the yes side is that an independent Scotland could allow more skilled immigration, although doing so could conflict with its aim of keeping an open border with the new UK. On the no side, there are worries about currency, VAT, EU membership (of both Scotland and the new UK), the end of the Royal Mail universal service obligation, you name it. Continue reading

Posted in Articles, IT, Scotland | Comments Off

Article for Guardian on Salvation Army and sexual abuse claims

For Society Guardian, Saba Salman and I write about one woman’s experience of trying to report claims of 1970s sexual abuse to the Salvation Army and the police. The full article is below.
Continue reading

Posted in Articles, Police | Comments Off

Making digital journalism pay: doable. Making a living: difficult

I was one of three speakers at an NUJ Oxford event last Thursday on how to make digital journalism pay. A theme developed: it is perfectly realistic for journalists to make money out of digital journalism, but the problem comes from making a decent living.

Tim Dawson, vice-president of the National Union of Journalists and a long-time writer and editor for The Sunday Times, spoke first. He has literally written the book on this area, Help Yourself – new ways to make money from writing. (It’s also available free for NUJ members – details here.) He outlined some of the methods for doing this, which could be divided into three types: advertising-funded, marketing for other business and reader-funded. (More on his New Model Journalism site here.) Continue reading

Posted in ID cards, IT, Media | 4 Comments