Thursday, 2 July 2009

The Medium Is Not The Message

Local councillor, Redlands' Cllr Daisy Benson (LibDem) has been praised by The Times' Rachel Potter for her innovative use of social networking media.

In particular noted by The Times were efforts to engage with typically disengaged students and young people during the recent scrutiny review of issues in private rented housing, which disproportionately involves them.

Cllr Benson advertises the methods which you can get in touch with her and explains that she and her colleagues communicate with members of public "in a variety of traditional and non-traditional ways including using blogs, press articles, street-letters, telephone, email, Facebook and more recently Twitter."

She also highlighted the power of communication tools to engage with loal residents, which is at the heart of traditional community politics, but offered the stark warning that although "it’s cheap and it reaches a lot of people, but it wouldn’t be suitable for every issue or every audience," as it is important to have balance and target information appropriately.

She points out a variety of recent LibDem campaigns to clean up Grafitti, to oppose the closure of Reading University's School of Health and Social Care and to save the Jolly Anglers pub have reached a wider audience and brought the issues under closer inspection because of their efforts.

Local Government Association programme director for media and campaigns, Edward Welsh, said the decline of local newspapers is one factor in the growing popularity of social networking, and described how "Councillors have fewer channels available to them to speak to the public and so the online community is rapidly growing in importance."


  1. It's nice to have friends in high places, didn't help in the last elections though...

  2. Hi again Anon,
    I'm not sure that a job as a national journalist can accurately be described as a high position and if you can provide any information that there is anything more than a professional acquaintance I'd be interested to her it.

    As for whether it helped or not at any elections that's your judgement, but I don't think it could have hurt.

    Anyway I'm intrigued why you think politicians are only interested in elections - don't policies matter too?

  3. Bit disingenuous to call Neal Brown a 'student', though. A quick google shows him to be an elected Lib Dem, not some random won round by Daisy.

  4. Hi Anon,
    according to his blog, Neal Brown says he is "currently serving my second term as Vice-President of Reading University Liberal Democrats’ Society" - so he is a student and not disingenuous at all. I suppose personal experience does matter after all!

  5. Neal Brown stood in Park Ward, and got beat convincingly.

    Orangjepan you seem to have a problem with anonymous posters, is your real name Oranjepan. Reveal your name and we might post more openly on your blog.

    PS. Did you like watching the last Council meeting? :-)

  6. Daisy Benson has always been so helpful to me when my children were assaulted while walking home from school (two separate incidents).

  7. Anon@00.28,
    I see a difference between anonymous and pseudononymous posters - the main one being that by having a standard pseudonym you can recieve updates by email and are able to be more closely included in discussions, whereas if you are anonymous you are essentially just making drive-by comments and denying any responsibility for their content.

    If you wish to contact me I will explain my reasons for pseudonymity in more detail.

    Anyway, isn't it inconsistent to call Neal Brown 'elected' before saying in the next breath that he was defeated? I take it that he was described in reference to the capacity in which he was talking.

  8. Hi Elizabeth,
    I'm sorry to hear about that, I hope it wasn't too serious.

  9. Sorry to get in the way of your Lib Dem campaigning, but the campaigns you mention are not just the territory of the Lib Dems! For example the campaign to reopen the Jolly Anglers pub is cross-party and I created the Facebook group which is linked to. Rob

  10. Thanks for the comment Rob,
    it seems your personal animosity is getting the better of your objectivity.

    Why are you complaining about other people campaigning, it's not like your averse to it? Don't you think campaigns need to gain the widest possible support in order to be successful?

    It strikes me as parochial, possessive and prejudiced to try to exclude others because of their political affiliation, on which note I congratulate you for being able to set up a facebook page. BTW when will you be using it to keep people informed of any new developments?

  11. Looking at the facebook page again, it strikes me as significant that you may have put your name to it, Rob, but you haven't provided any information, nor have you contributed to the discussion thread, and neither have you given any information about how members of the public can help.

    If you want to claim some credit for something then hadn't you better make a bit of effort?


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