New journalism

Jacques Poitras over at the CBC has brought political journalism in New Brunswick into real time.  He live tweets (twitters?) from the Legislature when it is sitting.  The Spin Reduxit blog is also a reflective look at the politics of the day. 

I realize this is a hard mix to balance for journalists.  They are already under deadline pressure from the traditional publishing side but I think it would provide interesting incremental value for journalists to be tweeting out relevant insights on key stories in real time.  Does it add massive value – particularly to the mass public?  Probably not – but we live in a real time culture now.  We order our TV when we want.  We listen, read and watch when we want so why not have commentary on David Alward’s troubles up North in real time?

That suits me just fine.

As a side note, I was a Page in the legislature the first year that the CoR party was there.  It was a raucous time for all.  Between Vroom Vroom, big Liz Weir (she was taller than virtually all the MLAs)  and Danny Cameron and the Boys you had an unlimited source of real time tweeting material.  Imagine if we had these technologies then.  My interesting in politics and the process of politics stems from that time.

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12 Responses to New journalism

  1. Anonymous says:

    I am affraid increased media channels will only encourage the hollow political sensationism we are currently subjected to. The opposition opposes for the sake of oposing and takes every opportunity to protest action merely for media attention rather than to shape effective policy. The Liberals did the same thing when they were in opposition.

    All the protests and opposition (and reporting of it) to so many relatively minor issues merely diverts attention away from truely meaningful issues such as education and economic development.

  2. Scott Mackay says:

    It’s about time a scribe jumped on this wave (although I’m cautious since it’s Poitras and his last blog on the Tory leadership race didn’t generate much interest). Plus, younger journos in other provinces across the country have tested the blog, facebook, YouTube, Twitter outlets for quite some time now (MRD Tory candidate Daniel Allain’s campaign nailed this in the last federal election and should have been a model for other politicos coming up the pipe). Even Monte Solberg, as you know, blogged from his seat in the HoC. So this is nothing new.

    I, myself, am particularly impressed with live skype sessions that are broadcast live or downloaded after the fact. Much like Stephen Taylor did on his blog and Paul Wells and Andrew Coyne just started doing over at Macleans.ca. Such things could quickly find its way into the mainstream, or replace it altogether.

    And with CBC deciding to shut down their politics show, you could see more viewers of such shows bleeding off from tv and onto the web.

  3. richard says:

    At least Poitras has considerable expertise and experience in the subject matter. I enjoy reading his comments and those of his colleague. The more of this the better, IMHO.

    As for politicians twittering (a very apt word there, twits will twitter), skyping or blogging – the audience is really small for that sort of thing; there is no new paradigm here. Its one thing for politicos to use these mechanisms to raise funds, spread the word during an election campaign, or get your dibs in on some hot issue. That stuff is really campaigning, preaching to the choir, not informing. For the kind of detailed analysis we need, sorry, those things will rarely work. We still need paper.

  4. I see that they have finally enabled comments but are still not publishing full feeds. Once again, CBC lags behind on the Web. In the mid 90’s they were the leaders online. With three layers of headers, the site is a pain to navigate. I’ve decided to subscribe for a while, but without full feeds I’ll probably dump Jacques, no matter how good his posts may be. He is competing with a few hundred other interesting sites in my aggregator.

  5. Scott Mackay says:

    Its one thing for politicos to use these mechanisms to raise funds, spread the word during an election campaign, or get your dibs in on some hot issue. That stuff is really campaigning, preaching to the choir, not informing. For the kind of detailed analysis we need, sorry, those things will rarely work. We still need paper.

    You just revealed your age, Rich. lol But not to worry, I used to run a few blogs in my day (a bit of local content), and not much of my traffic was from New Brunswick or the maritimes, so I guess you’re not in the minority around here. Although, I suspect, our region (and this ethos) is not a harbinger for the rest of the country, nor the world. 😉

  6. mikel says:

    I don’t think they are lagging, how much twittering do Irving journalists do? This CAN”T not be a good thing. Our taxpayers are paying for it, so to counter the first point, is it really better than NOT having it?

    If you look at what he has so far its pretty impressive. This frees up journalists to talk about whats going on without the editorial constraints of news broadcasts. The items he’s twittered really aren’t ‘minor’, keep in mind for lots of the population economic development talk is what is ‘minor’. He has tons of posts on the doctor issue, and David blogged that, so if it WERE true that he’s blogging minor stories then David is as well.

    All change takes awhile to sink in. Every activist knows that the key to EVERYTHING is persistence. A recent book on chaos theory talked about at the CBC looked at the successes of wealthy people all over the world and the key to their success was persistence, not anything else.

    And these things have a way of filtering down. No, every New Brunswicker isn’t going to talk about it, but usually some event happens and use jumps way up. Like I’ve said, when Charles went to Bathurst to cover the public inquiry, his readership almost doubled. Usually elections have that effect for things like this.

    My only real problem with these things is the shear VOLUME of stuff that comes out. And at the CBC very little has ‘sticking power’-they aren’t like AIMS with an agenda that they push and push and push. But we know where New Brunswick is ‘failing’, and thats with public policy. ANYTHING that gets NBers to talk about public policy is a good thing. Again, New Brunswick is WAY behind other provinces. You can’t even find out how your local MLA voted on various pieces of legislation. It is very difficult to find out what they even say in the House. Usually its a small group that pays attention-usually academics who then use the info for studies, and thats another reason why NB really doesn’t have much in the way of a political literature.

    In BC I can go online and read what was said in the legislature back in the 90’s if I want. In NB I have to subscribe to a mailing list where the days talks are sent to me-I actually DID that but three quarters of the time they didn’t show up and when I emailed for tech assistance they simply said it must be a problem with my email.

    But like I said elsewhere, this government is REALLY pushing the change envelope, and a LOT of people are pissed off. When young people start complaining about drivers licenses they get organized, and once an organization starts, its only one step away from thinking “well, since we’re organized anyway, maybe we should look at OTHER issues affecting our group”. And the twitter thing helps.

  7. Rob says:

    “…his last blog on the Tory leadership race didn’t generate much interest”

    Let’s be honest: The Tory leadership race didn’t generate much interest.

  8. Bill says:

    Twitter is directional more than anything else, at least for me. It’s kind of an information desk. It alerts me to the topics I find of interest and, with links, directs me to articles, posts etc.

    I follow Jacques on Twitter. I also follow David Akin (covering federal politics from Ottawa – @davidakin ) who has had a blog and been on Twitter for some time now. One of the things Akins does is (if you’re familiar with Twitter) use hashtags on spending related announcements (see #ottawaspends). From the smallest to the largest, it is a way to see how Ottawa is spending.

  9. Rob says:

    “You can’t even find out how your local MLA voted on various pieces of legislation. It is very difficult to find out what they even say in the House.”

    That’s actually one of THE biggest issues w/ our legislature. It’s 2009, I don’t think it’s beyond the capabilities of our government to publish Hansard to a pdf, or to log MLA voting records.

    Look at what David Cameron in promising in the UK, Barack Obama promised in the States, and what Vancouver is doing in BC: Open Source Government. All gov’t stats and data should be online, and available for public consumption and analysis. If public dollars are used to produce the data, the public ought to have easy access to it.

    These other jurisidictions are moving towards open government, and we still can’t track what our MLAs are saying on our behalf in the Legislature. At least Jacques’ twitter feed gives us an idea what’s happening in there.

  10. Scott Mackay says:

    Let’s be honest: The Tory leadership race didn’t generate much interest.

    touche Rob! And to be fair, his election blog generated lots of interest, but spinks would probably say it was because of the “comment controversy” (the CBC’s filtering/requiring a name and not a pseudonym to post in the comment section) drummed up on his blog, which received a high volume of traffic, maybe even more then the CBC blog itself. Had to be said spinks! lol

    Anyway, if it’s any consolation Jacques (if you’re reading this), I liked your two books, especially the one on NB Tories. Recent blogs, not so much (I’m just being honest).

  11. mikel says:

    I’m the opposite, I thought the political books were ridiculous, even people IN politics weren’t that interested. If you look at the types of things Robert Jones throws out, and the stuff about Irving, etc., the idea of writing political books about Bernard Lord just seemed ridiculous-although to be honest I couldn’t even get through it.

    The good thing about moves like this is that you can see people are REALLY starting to get PO’d about politics. But people know very little ABOUT politics-which is no doubt why Lamrock toned down his talk about ‘doing more civics’. You simply can’t push down the propaganda today the way it was done years ago, sort of like how ‘columbus day’ has essentially been sacked in the US because more protestors were showing up denouncing the celebration of a genocidal slave trader.

    Combine that with a global meltdown and you are talking about things being rife for change. Sometimes I almost think the liberals are purposely trying to light a fire under New Brunswickers, but I don’t think they are that smart (or want those repercussions). Remember, these were guys who threw out Charles Leblanc in part because he saw what was going on…and it wasn’t pretty.

  12. richard says:

    “You simply can’t push down the propaganda today the way it was done years ago”

    Au contraire, there is more propaganda than ever before. New media have enabled propaganda to greater heights than ever. I don’t see any good evidence that new media have improved information flow; without a doubt, propaganda flow has been increased. Today we just have propaganda from different sources.

    As Rob pointed out above, information re NB is hidden away. Its the data we need and the capacity to analyse it, not uninformed opinion via twitter.

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