First, it does not fully utilize the interactive features available. It is heavily moderated (which is understandable), but the subject matter seems regulated to what the Globe thinks is important or the political campaigns define as the issues. There does not seem to be a lot of places where ordinary voters can raise issues. And, no obvious commitment by editorial staff to follow up on any issues that get suggested by the audience. Why not let part of the coverage become generated by the audience? Like traditional newspaper products, it seems like a lot of information is presented (which is great); but, it is all from the news organization. Why couldn’t there be a section where people could write in from their ridings about the local issues that are important. Each riding could be listed and users could go to see what their neighbours are saying is important. I see this as a huge lost opportunity.
It also is using the same talking heads and elite sources for blogs and special sections (Strategists corner, etc.). Where are the every day people who could make a regular contribution.
And then there is the stupid polls. When will we ever give up the horserace mentality? Sure, a couple of polls. But it is the first day!
Next, there is no convergent media. As of Sunday (Sept. 8) evening, it is mainly text and images. This overall Globe website works mainly in multiple media (the juxtaposition of text, images, audio and video), not multimedia (the blending of content into a single form that uses text, images, audio and video combined through a platform like Flash to tell a story). The multimedia section consists of a pathetic photo gallery of political cartoons. Also, considering the Globe is part of the CTV network, we should be able to get live streams of events, like the announcement. There should be a ton of video from reporters. How about audio files of interviews with clips? Hell, they could put up the raw interviews as podcasts so we can hear exactly what was said. There is nothing like this.
Also, there is no hyperlinking between related stories or external information that would be useful to users. The arrogance to think they are the only source of information is beyond anyone who is truly trying to create a modern news website. Again, we see the traditional attitudes towards journalism migrated online.
We should also see original documents. Where were the full-text, original speeches from today’s campaign launch from each party? It does not take a huge amount of resources to post a copy as a PDF. The Globe gets access to a huge amount of paper from all sides. Why not make it available to everyone in relation to stories covered?
While it is said all politics is local, a quick survey of community newspapers sites in British Columbia, the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Ontario and the Atlantic region found an overwhelming majority did not have any breaking news regarding the election call Sunday.
About 10 per cent of the more than 200 newspapers reviewed had some type of election story, mainly focusing on the election call only. One newspaper, Northumberland News, in Central Ontario, had full coverage of the election call, candidate reactions, and profiles of candidates Sunday night.
This demonstrates how community newspapers continue to view the online product as a value-added resource to the main traditional newspaper. Rather than viewing it as an opportunity to provide breaking news to local audiences, the online products consist mainly of repurposed content placed online within the same publishing schedule.
But, this may also say something about media concentration and the nature of a federal election campaign.
While sites display local content, there is no question many pages are part of a chain of newspapers. The websites are made with templates. And, in the case of some chains, a single website is used for several traditional newspaper products. For my informal survey, one website was counted once, even though it represented several newspapers.
Another consideration is the way in which national political campaigns are run. Mainly, the focus is on the leaders and not on local campaigns. One political organizer I know on a local level said when someone votes, 90 per cent of their decision is based on the national campaign and 10 per cent on the local race. It will be interesting to see if this plays out on the community newspaper level.
Also, many community newspapers leave national, provincial and regional coverage to the major urban newspapers. Supposedly, community newspapers focus on local issues. It will also be interesting to see to what extent coverage of local campaigns mirrors national ones. Will the issues be the same or will we see different ones emerge?
And, will local papers create a space for debate of the issues? So far, as we have seen already, it would appear the traditional values of community newspapers are merely transferred online. I know I will certainly be tracking who uses online newspapers, and the features of the Internet, to create a democratic commons to facilitate discourse.
Continue Reading Community newspaper coverage of Sunday’s election call lacking
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Nobody, so far, has adequately explained why the Green party has not already been included in election debates, even as their popularity rivals that of the Bloc Québécois and in some areas the New Democrats — who are included. In my opinion, media decision-makers have stepped over the line as gate-keepers in election debates. The media fails in its public-interest job as facilitators of public democratic debate that includes new voices and new ideas.