Charlie Beckett, director at POLIS (journalism and society think tank, a joint initiative from LSE and The London College of Communication) recently posted a blog entitled
In it he explains the thinking of the BBC’s Justin Webb who followed the last couple of US elections:
“... speaking at Polis, [Webb] said that it was the guerilla [sic] video activists who made the most impact. He forecast a Flip Election in the UK for 2010.”
I’m not so convinced. I think they’ll combine: that is, the bloggers will become flippers. The size (and cost) of pocket-sized video cameras has nearly equalised with pocket-sized digital cameras. Bloggers are more and more aware that text is boring without a picture or two to brighten up. And thirty seconds of video does no harm either. I’ll be surprised if the larger political blogs like Slugger O’Toole don’t feature a lot more video content in the months running up to May 2010.
Regular readers of AiB will have noticed that I’ve been harping on about political and public sector accountability and engagement over the last few months, and covered the EU election from the perspective of an electoral observer.
One upshot is that as an experiment, I’ve scheduled a series of interviews with representatives of the six main political parties in East Belfast. Two completed, four to go. Not an experiment in terms of putting local East Belfast politicians under a microscope and treating them like lab rats, but in terms of showing that ordinary people can get access and get answers if they bother to ask.
I’m using roughly the same questions each time. Not looking to trip them up or come over all Jeremy Paxman. Just trying to get comparable answers to questions along three simple but relevant themes:
- impressions of the opportunities and challenges facing East Belfast (particularly in and around the new developments in Titanic Quarter);
- how they think their party is moving forward - with next year’s election(s) in mind; and
- how the level of public engagement with politics could change, and why they got into politics in the first place.
So over the coming weeks, expect to see a series of posts featuring answers from representatives of Alliance (and the second part!) in two parts), DUP, PUP, SDLP, Sinn Fein and UUP. Their words will be broken up with a few video clips of the more remarkable answers. The first one should be posted tomorrow.
Update - first interview now posted online.