12 January 2007

On the Scottish Political Blogosphere

It's rare for me to post on here about what I actually think about the state of blogging - that's not really why I created this blog, and I'll be the first to admit that I'm rubbish at navel-gazing - but this post by Holyrood Watcher got me thinking.

He quotes a Washington Post article referring to the Media Bloggers Association, which has about a thousand members and has just secured two seats in the Press section of the courtroom which will host the trial of Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, Vice-President Dick Cheney's former Chief of Staff. Holyrood Watcher laments the fact that Scottish bloggers don't get similar access. I think it's more important to ask how U.S. bloggers have managed it, and I think that the MBA is the key. Perhaps it's time for bloggers of Scottish Politics to follow their American counterparts and create something similar?

2006 was the year in which blogs got noticed, with Iain Dale almost becoming a mainstrwam commentator on UK politics and Sion Simon MP's dire impression of David Cameron. And that's before you count the original 'Webcameron', while the SNP are now placing video messages from Alex Salmond online. Also, mainstream pundits and politicians are getting in on the act: Iain MacWhirter puts his newspaper columns on a blog, while MSPs such as Stewart Stevenson and Councillors such as Fraser Macpherson and Andrew Burns all use blogs like an online diary, enabling constituents to track what their officials are up to.

2007, though, is the year when blogs could have an impact. A number of Parliamentary candidates (have a look through my blogroll and you'll find them) are running blogs, though some of these might fall by the wayside after May - I reckon the one most likely to still be running come Christmas will be Davie Hutchison's North to Leith.

But why will we have an impact? Firstly, we've already been noticed, as I said. People are paying attention, and people in Scotland are waking up to their potential in election year. I believe that a blogger, any blogger could throw a hand grenade into this campaign, by raising the killer issue or breaking the killer story. We're getting more mainstream: Ian Hamilton's attempts to create a weblog newspaper show that there's a possible niche to be exploited - a newspaper for a generation that doesn't get its news from the papers. Then there's Jenny's Stool, the attempt to create the 'Scottish Guido' whose absence was lamented on Radio Scotland.

This is not going to be a 'make or break' year for blogs, but it will be when we lay the foundation. Google estimates that 2007 will see blog creation peak, so now is the time to get on board. It's a year to lay foundations for future successes.

But what will make us successful? For me, we're at our best when we're co-operating. Today I've drawn the stories behind my posts from other bloggers rather than the papers. Then there's the Scottish Blogging Roundup, where we supply the content, and while Duncan and Garry sift through it and produce an excellent resumé of what's got us talking this week. That then brings new blogs to our attention. Then there's the Media Bloggers' Association, which has managed to secure formal representation for its members. That for me is the next logical step: an SBA - Scottish Bloggers' Association - which can represent our industry and give us the formal recognition that has so far eluded us.

Now, the question is, how in the name of Nina Simone do we go about it?


HW said...

Mr MacN

If you really want to pursue the idea of an association of Scottish political bloggers, then I suggest that the next time you are in Edinburgh you convene a meeting of those who might be interested. A city centre pub would do as a venue.

At that meeting, you might want to discuss:

1. aims of the association (generally promoting the interests of the members, anything more specific?)

2. membership (anyone?)

3. legal form (unnecessary at this stage)

4. finance and fees (again probably unnecessary at this stage)

5. office bearers?

6. work programme

7. logo (bloggers appear to like to exhibit their allegiance).

You have my best wishes if you choose to proceed.


Grant Thoms said...

I would suggest:

1. an unincorporated articles of association (useful for recognition from the likes of Scottish Parliament, Lobby Association, media accreditation at party conferences etc)

2. a nominal fee so that members value its membership

Clairwil said...

I realise that I'm not serious enough for such an association but it's an excellent idea. The SBR has brought so many excellent Scottish blogs to my attention. The msm aren't giving Holyrood the grilling it deserves, beyond daft personality and scandal stuff.

If you want a good job done and all that.....