The banning of the blog

School dinner

Argyll and Bute, I think it is fair to say, isn't often in the news. But now local councillors have come up with a brilliant scheme to put their region in the west of Scotland on the map. They've reportedly banned a primary school pupil's blog.

UPDATE 13:57 BST: The ban on Martha taking photographs of her school meals has since been lifted.

The blog in question is called NeverSeconds, and describes itself as "one primary school pupil's daily dose of school dinners". The idea is simple and brilliant. The author Martha, who calls herself "Veg", takes a picture of her meal each day and writes a review, coupled with a few thoughts about her day.

Very quickly, a community has grown around the blog, with other pupils from far and wide sending in pictures of their own meals. It has attracted attention from national newspapers and even from Jamie Oliver.

But yesterday Martha was called out of a maths lesson and told that her blogging had to stop. The decision, according to her father, was not taken by the school, which has been very supportive, but by the Argyll and Bute council.

It's not quite clear why - perhaps there is a ban on taking photos inside schools, or maybe there is some concern about the damage to the reputation of the school meals service.

I prefer to think there is another explanation - and that this is all a cunning plan by the councillors to draw attention to their beautiful region with its dramatic coastline, and fine cuisine. It seems to be working - the case of the banned blog is rapidly becoming a cause celebre, with emails, tweets, and presumably phone calls arriving at council headquarters from around the world.

Amongst the many tweets this morning as #NeverSeconds became a trending topic, I spotted this from Twitter user @Marshallmedia: "A classic example of local government failing to grasp the power of social media @argyllandbute could have made PR gold from #neverseconds."

But surely that is to underestimate the smart people at the council. Without the ban, this excellent blog would have received far less attention. I imagine that a couple of weeks ago one of those well-paid social media consultants arrived at the council offices in Kilmory and laid out a strategy which would generate "PR Gold " - a global Twitter storm, and mentions on national radio and TV. It seems to be working...


A couple of things I should make clear. A few people have been in touch to point out that Argyll and Bute council has not banned Martha's blog - just banned the taking of photos in the school canteen. As the whole point of the NeverSeconds blog is to show pictures of school food, the effect seems to me to be the same, but I'm happy to clarify that issue.

Oh, and some people have taken rather too seriously my suggestion that the whole affair was just a PR stunt got up by the council. I forgot to include this warning:

Caution - May Contain Irony.

Rory Cellan-Jones, Technology correspondent Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    Not sure why people are getting so pedantic over the headline. The lassie's blog had her photos of her school dinner as it's core, so by banning those they HAVE, in effect, banned the blog.

    If you can't see that, you're really missing the point of the whole thing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    This story is important - for the outrageous bullying and attempted censorship by Argyll & Bute's Independent/SNP-controlled council.

    Shameful of the BBC - trying to twist the story round as just a 'cunning plan' to advertise the 'beautiful region'. Laughable. But not funny, as it hides the underlying seriousness.

    Here we see SNP authoritarianism and BBC bias combined.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Sorry, 54, but opinion of a certain section of the public isn't representative of the wider population. Social Media, Twitter in this case, isn't as widespread as the "old media". I stick by my assertion, this is a "diddy" story for the end of the news.
    And frankly, I don't look for who agrees or disagrees, so rate this comment negatively if it pleases you. It doesn't register on my care-o-meter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    "Hey Teacher !!........................Leave the kids alone !!!"
    (The Wall by Pink Flyod 1979)

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    Regarding "Have Your Say" topics - why is this article open for comments anyway? It is exactly the same subject as on another HYS page on the same story ("School dinner blogger 'banned'").

    Isn't that a bit daft? Doesn't anyone at BBC oversee all the HYS debates together?

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    BBC, you really should change the headline ("The banning of the blog") on this story above - her blog is NOT banned at all.

    The blog is based around photos of her school meals
    No photos = no blog of any substance
    A picture tells a thousand words, photos project a reality which words cannot

    If someone takes the wheels from your car do you still have a car?

    Do you have a useful car? no

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    She is certainly NOT banned from blogging. This 'fact' was made up by Rory Cellan-Jones to make the story more interesting and is not correct as you can verify by either reading her blog, or looking at any more reputable news site. Rory could not be bothered to do this, so made up most of the story instead as that's quicker and easier.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    "If it's a storm on social media, it's not really a storm."

    You say that, but if there's a better barometer of public opinion, I've not seen it. Old media always pandered to their readers and would never dare tell them they were wrong. Social media means I can see roughly how many people agree or disagree with me. It's nice to know.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    BBC, you really should change the headline ("The banning of the blog") on this story above - her blog is NOT banned at all.

    This is incorrect and misleading headlining, and implies something much more sinister to do with suppressing free speech than what has actually happened - withdrawing permission to take photos in school, which could be argued is reasonable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    Why 50? And your last sentence sounds like a threat to be honest. I'm quaking in my boots.

    Lets face it, this isn't a storm. It's a "And Finally" story on the 10 o'clock news, if that. Nothing more.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    In the age of the Internet even a nine year old girl can make a Council fear for it's credibility


  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    Comment number 48. Green Soap
    "If it's a storm on social media, it's not really a storm. We all know that many bloggers and tweeters (and message board users) think that their wee world is the be all and end all. It's not."

    Pretty vapid remark, to be honest. The internet community, of which you are a part, is enormous. You'd be advised not to undermine its influence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    I have sent a polite email message to the Council, I suggest others do this also, just in case they haven't noticed the storm.....

    I also asked them if they had the right to ban the taking of photos and what would they do if it was disobeyed? I wonder if I will get an answer........

    I wonder also, does the Council have the right to instruct the school about this?

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    If it's a storm on social media, it's not really a storm. We all know that many bloggers and tweeters (and message board users) think that their wee world is the be all and end all. It's not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Oh, secondly this wasn't a blog about how poor her school food was, at least half the time she was really enjoying it and over the course of the six weeks had already managed to generate awareness of the meals and improve them. I recommend actually reading what she wrote. It was just a fun little daily thing.

    There's a lot of misinformation and weird opinions being shown on this story...

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    I wonder if anyone from Argyll and Bute actually read the blog? It's well-written and quite unthreatening. I suspect there will be a retraction of this thoughtless decision very soon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    @34. Violet Mildred
    The teachers did not ban her from taking the pictures. The council did. Her father has said the school have been very supportive. Read her blog!

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    If I were her father I'd be tempted to tell the school she will continue to take photographs. I cannot see how the school has any right to stop her - if there was a concern about her causing disruption to the operation of the school that would be one thing, but stopping it just to prevent embarrassment for the local authority is inappropriate and - as we see from the extensive coverage - foolish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    I think this flatters the Council, in my view they are numbskulls.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    So her friends take photos of their meals and forward them to her to post on the blog - problem solved.


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