One of the key ways in which Select Committees scrutinise government is through evidence sessions.
This is where MPs can freely question key experts, public bodies and Ministers on the topic they’re investigating. It’s also where much of the most important and dramatic moments in Select Committee work takes place.
However, sessions can be long. And, for the most part, they take place during working hours. This means that most people wont be able to watch the live stream on parliamentlive.tv, but need occasional updates on key moments.
This is where live-tweeting comes into its own.
Picking out the key moments
The aim of live-tweeting isn't to provide a digital facsimile of the live-stream.
Instead, it offers an opportunity to present key moments of the session, who can either receive these as updates on their phones, or can choose to watch the session in full later on. We therefore recommend around 10-15 tweets in order not to overload people's timelines.
Using a template
Rather than describing what is happening, we stick to a simple template that presents a snapshot. As you can see in the above tweet, this takes the following form:
Speaker: Text #hashtag
We also try to include an image in order to give a sense of what's going on. Images also significantly increase the amount of engagement a tweet will get.
Giving the session some context
Often, the topic in discussion may benefit from extra information - such as, in the above, conflicting statements.
There may also be key definitions, statistics or other interesting facts, and images, during live-tweeting, can enrich the discussion.
Showing the scrutiny
Used correctly, live-tweeting can give committees a unique opportunity to display their process of scrutiny.
Distilling long sessions down into significant moments opens up the work of committees to those who do not have the time to watch live.
Using social media in this way shows the essence of Committees' scrutiny work, which after all, is what committees are all about.