NMA CEO: Bristol City Council Makes “Dangerous and Undemocratic Move”

Owen Meredith, chief executive of the News Media Association, has called Bristol City Council’s decision to stop sending press releases to journalists a “dangerous and undemocratic move” for public scrutiny.

Bristol City Council announced that they will no longer send “traditional press releases” to news titles, deciding to publish them solely on their own website and social media platforms, bypassing any independent scrutiny of the council’s decisions and activities.

This decision from the Council comes after local democracy reporters Alex Seabrook and Adam Postans questioned Bristol mayor Marvin Rees about his decision to fly to America to speak at a TED conference on climate change.

Both reporters were challenged over their right to ask questions by a council comms officer. The two reporters were subsequently banned from the Mayor’s fortnightly briefings.

The NMA strongly condemned the banning of Local Democracy Reporters from the Bristol mayor’s briefings describing it as a “blunt assault on the principles of local democracy” and called for the journalists to be allowed access immediately.

Since the ban, many news outlets have boycotted the briefings, including the Bristol Post, Bauer Media, the BBC, Bristol 24/7, the Bristol Cable, Bristol World and ITV West Country.