podcasting politicians


3 November 2006 

Woman watching podcast

The SNP is seeking to target the younger generation

A hi-tech video plea to voters using podcasting technology has been launched by the Scottish National Party.Party leader Alex Salmond will be hosting regular podcasts over the next six months in an effort to reach young voters, graduates and professionals.

The Scottish Executive has already moved into the realm of MP3 downloads, with selected events and first minister’s questions available online.

UK Conservative leader David Cameron has also started his own video weblog.

‘Target graduates’

The SNP’s podcast, filmed in Glasgow’s George Square, was also published on the YouTube website.

“With an estimated one in four 25 to 40 year-olds with MP3 players such as Apple’s iPod, the SNP is using this media to target graduates and young professionals,” the party said.

“Polling confirms this age group as the strongest supporters of independence and the SNP is wooing these voters with a pledge to lift the burden of student debt from thousands of young Scots and their families.”

The Nationalists are planning a series of podcasts in the run-up to the 3 May Holyrood and local elections.

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I’ve just spent a surreal 30 minutes over at ‘webcameron’, the brilliantly named, and cunningly contrived attempt, to portray Conservative party leader and Prime Ministerial hopeful David Cameron, as both web-savvy and stylishly informal.

My initial impressions, are that an awful awful lot of focus group planning, and  My-Space market research has gone into moulding and shaping something designed to look, as if it was thrown together by a happy accident.

The whole site has the kind of low-level polish, that you would normally associate with something like a boy band or an MTV ‘reality’ show. You get a sense that the people involved in its creation have spent both hundreds of thoughtful hours, and tens of thousands of pounds, creating just the right level of ‘amateur chic’ to appeal to their target demographic.

Like almost everything else created by our modern political leaderships, it’s amazingly short on depth, and frighteningly long on surface. It also seems to foreshadow the next staged electoral farce. Where we will probably see the lumbering Labour party lizards, led by the terribly dour and terminally uncool Gordon Brown, battling a fresh-faced version of the old boy Etonian Tory network, reinvented for the 21st Century, and fronted by the awkward hipster chic of Mr David Cameron.

Judging by this early effort, it promises to be both a truly bizarre spectacle and a well planned foregone conclusion. All the early running has Cameron ahead by a very long political mile.

The British political establishment and those who give them their marching orders, are well aware of the damaged credibility, and shortening shelf life of this present government. Currently mired in an unpopular war, and damaged by years of lying, it seems unlikely that they will be able to carry off another electoral term, without exposing the elite’s policy agenda to a level of unnecessary scrutiny.

Thus it is, that with the launch of ‘webcameron’, we are beginning to see the pointless political posturing and positioning, that is the prelude to a changing of the political guard. One designed to placate the restless disaffection of the British public, and to convince us all that we really do live in a truly interactive and representative democratic society. The truth of course, is something very far away from this, and no amount of clever contrivances can disguise the shallow and callous centre at the heart of the British political machine.

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25 July 2006

Derek Wyatt's website

Derek Wyatt says his site shows people what he does

Politicians should use the internet to fight cynicism among voters, said Labour MP Derek Wyatt as he scooped an award for his website.Mr Wyatt won the elected representative section at the New Statesman magazine’s new media awards.

He said websites could help MPs show their constituents what they did and how they could make a difference.

Environment Secretary David Miliband was highly commended in the competition for his recently-started blog.

The judges said Mr Wyatt had used new technologies on his site to communicate with local constituents.

“His mix of weekly blog entries and podcasts provide users with a variety of means to keep updated on Wyatt’s work and local issues,” they said.

‘Working hard’

Mr Wyatt said about 10,000 people visited the website every week, with 60,000 weekly hits.

In the last few days he had been able to post emails from constituents thanking him for getting money from a benefits agency for them.

“People can see the effectiveness of my office and it shows them that we are not all cynical politicians buying cowboy boots,” he told BBC News in a clear reference to John Prescott.

“Some of us are working very hard.”

Mr Wyatt is now planning to run more podcasts to see if he can get greater numbers of younger people interested in the site.

Democratic conduit

Other winners at the awards included the WriteToThem website, which helps people find and contact their local councillors, MPs, MEPs, MSPs, Welsh or London Assembly members for free.

The site, which is run by the charity MySociety, won the contribution to civil society award.

Judges said it was a “wonderful example of a service which the government could provide”.

“WriteToThem is a superb conduit for democracy and the exchange of ideas via the 21st Century’s technological world,” they said.

Other winners were:

Education award: Sonic postcards. Highly commended http://www.filmstreet.co.uk and http://mapzone.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/giszone.

Advocacy award: PledgeBank

Accessibility award: Commission for Social Care Inspection

Independent information award: OpenDemocracy. Highly commended: http://www.foia.blogspot.com (about the Freedom of Information Act)

Innovation: BBC Backstage. Highly commended: Readspeaker Podcaster

Modernising government: Love Lewisham. Highly commended: Stop Crime – Devon and Cornwall Police. http://www.stopcrime.co.uk/

Contribution to civil society: Highly commended: Patient Opinion.


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30 September 2006

David Cameron out shopping in London with wife Sarah and children

David Cameron faces his first party conference as Tory leader


Cameron’s blog

Conservative leader David Cameron has launched his own video weblog to try to get his message across to young people.Webcameron.org.uk looks a little like Youtube and will include regular videos, podcasts and diaries as well as interviews with Mr Cameron and guests.

He told a student website the blog was launched because lots of young people “get their news off the internet”.

As Mr Cameron prepares for his first conference as leader, a poll suggests support for the party is slipping.

A YouGov poll for the Daily Telegraph, which questioned 1,847 adults across the UK, suggested the Tory lead over Labour had slipped back.

Mr Cameron told the univillage site: “A young person would no more think of going to a public meeting than boiling an egg, so they do it on the internet.”

He said that via the blog, people could see what he and the Conservative Party were doing, what the policies were and how they were being developed.

“They’ll see behind the scenes,” he said.

‘New way’

In one of the first films, the Tory leader is shown outlining his plans for the site while chatting to one of his young children who wants his attention.

CONSERVATIVE WEEK

Sunday
Senator John McCain
David Cameron

Monday
Hot topic: Marketing to children
Public services debate
David Davis, Crime debate
Hot topic: Cheap flights
Environment debate

Tuesday
Hot topic: Alcohol and drugs
Social justice debate
Business in society
George Osborne, economy
William Hague, Liam Fox, foreign affairs
Devolution debate

Wednesday
Culture of creativity
Hot topic: Globalisation
Global poverty debate
Leader’s speech

Analysis: New look rally?

He explained to univillage: “Lots of young people now don’t bother with newspapers – they see that as the dead wood industry and they get their news off the internet.

“But we’re not really there communicating with them so…I’m launching a totally new idea in British politics.”

He said he was trying to engage young people and tell them what politicians were trying to do because “we are seen as a race apart”.

Mr Cameron, who has been accused of lacking substance by political opponents, denied it was a publicity stunt.

“It’s not a gimmick at all. I’m going to give a lot of time to it,” he said.

However, the other two main parties have also taken their campaigning to the internet.

At the Labour and Lib Dem conferences, political bloggers have been offered computer facilities, background briefings and access to big name politicians.

Other internet adventures include a World Cup blog by Tony Blair’s former press secretary Alistair Campbell as well as party conference podcasts.

The Liberal Democrats’ online activity includes flocktogether.org.uk, a site where party members plan meetings and campaigns.

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23 January 2006

By Torin Douglas
BBC media correspondent


Radio presenter Chris Moyles

Radio 1’s Chris Moyles is the BBC’s most popular podcast

Suddenly, it seems, podcasting has broken through to a new level.

The BBC’s first published podcast chart reveals that the Radio Four Today programme’s main interview was downloaded more than 400,000 times last month, second only, among BBC programmes, to Radio One’s Chris Moyles Show.

But the real change is in the way other media groups are now using podcasts to challenge broadcasters such as the BBC.

Last week, The Guardian newspaper announced that the Ricky Gervais Show had been downloaded over two million times, having already topped the Apple iTunes download charts on both sides of the Atlantic. Now other media owners are racing to get into the audio business.

After the Gervais podcast on Guardian Unlimited, the Conservative leader David Cameron popped up in the new Daily Telegraph podcast. Two days later, it was Tony Blair, podcast by The Sun, which said it was as significant a breakthrough as the first radio broadcast by a prime minister, Ramsay MacDonald in 1924.

Then last Friday, Jon Snow appeared in Channel 4’s first podcast, a documentary about cannabis and the young.

Print radio

The first sign of the potential for other media to get podcasting emerged two months ago.

We have a role in helping our audience find the best of what’s out there and we also have an opportunity to identify the rising talent emerging through podcasts

Simon Nelson, BBC Radio and Music

“What actually happened is that Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant approached us to say they wanted to explore the idea of doing a show through our website” said Emily Bell, editor-in-chief of Guardian Unlimited.

“I think they wanted to work in a format where they were in complete control of what they put out, but also to put it out to a wider audience.”

The Daily Telegraph has gone further, appointing its own podcast editor, Guy Ruddle. He arrived from the BBC earlier this month and says you can now listen to the Telegraph’s business news and sports reports, as an alternative to Today’s.

“We are the only newspaper that is doing anything vaguely resembling a daily news bulletin, with news and comment and analysis,” he said.

“That to me is the future – the ability to give people an audio version of the newspaper and, eventually, for them to be able to scroll through items and pick out bits they want to listen to or not.”

The Telegraph also features its own columnists, some reading out their own words, which can sound a bit stilted at the moment, something Guy Ruddle, as a professional broadcaster, will no doubt sort out.

But on Friday, it had something more exciting, the first broadcast interview with one of its columnists, the Olympic and trans-Atlantic rower James Cracknell. It caught the moment as he reached land with broadcaster Ben Fogle, who had nearly drowned when their boat capsized.

Radio role

Is the move into podcasts by rival media a threat to radio broadcasters? Simon Nelson, head of new media for BBC Radio and Music, believes not.

A new video iPod

Digital music players such as the iPod are used to listen to podcasts

He says the huge demand for podcasts, including BBC programmes such as From Our Own Correspondent and In Our Time, shows the enduring relevance of radio in the digital world, wherever it comes from.

“I think we see our role as trying to stimulate that, trying to help people find the ways to do it simply,” he said.

“We have a role in helping our audience find the best of what’s out there and we also have an opportunity to identify the rising talent emerging through podcasts.”

The Ricky Gervais Show has demonstrated the potential, and the threat, for broadcasters. Gervais and Merchant were previously on the commercial radio station XFM and have also broadcast for Radio 2.

Since they started the online show for The Guardian, has proved a runaway hit for the newspaper.

“The scale of it has certainly surprised us,” said Ms Bell, “and opens up lots of possibilities for non-traditional broadcasters to get into an area that perhaps they wouldn’t have thought about.”

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July 04, 2006

tony_blair_podcast_2.jpgUK Prime Minister Tony Blair has recorded a podcast for his local paper, The Northern Echo. Blair recorded a special message for the paper serving his constituency of Sedgefield to mark the launch of the paper’s new podcasting site.

Audio and video downloads are available at the paper’s site.

While the paper is explicitly announcing a new podcast, no podcast feed is clearly marked at the site at this time, and the site also returns no search results for “podcast.”

“In 100 years time another Prime Minister may be using even better technology to get across what newspapers do which is inform people about events and launch some fantastic campaigns that make a real difference to people’s lives,” said Blair.

The Echo is planning to offer a wide range of podcasts via the new site. Editor Peter Barron has recorded a podcast of his paper’s popular Dad at Large column and Mike Amos, who has just been awarded an MBE, will also contribute.

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