Something I have noticed about the Glasgow North East by-election is amount of innovative online coverage there has been from the media. All Media Scotland has reported on interesting methods of covering the election which have been adopted by three Scottish newspapers.
The Scotsman has invited the candidates from five of the main parties to contribute to its politics blog The Steamie in the run-up to the election. Full credit to The Scotsman for coming up with the idea. They are clearly trying something interesting with The Steamie, having recently invited some of Scotland’s top bloggers to regularly contribute to it.
It is interesting to see how the various candidates are using this platform. Will Patterson is analysing the candidates’ blog posts to see what message they are trying to get across.
I am infact surprised that the candidates feel that regularly contributing lengthy posts to a blog is a useful way to spend the final week of the campaign. Are there that many votes to be won among the readers of The Steamie?
The Daily Record has held its own type of digital hustings in the shape of a podcast. The Record’s political editor, Magnus Gardham, sat five of the candidates round a table to answer questions sent in by the newspaper’s readers.
Interestingly, the Daily Record chose Tommy Sheridan as its fifth candidate, while The Scotsman chose the Greens’ David Doherty. Perhaps the choice reflects the demographics of the newspapers’ readerships, with the Record thinking that its readers will be more interested in what Tommy Sheridan has to say.
Who is right about who the most credible fifth candidate is? It is not easy to tell, particularly when some believe that the BNP may even come third.
Not to be outdone, The Herald has done its own podcast for the by-election, chaired by its political editor Brian Currie. They have opted to feature just the candidates of the four main parties.
Clearly, the candidates feel that engaging with the electorate online in this way is worthwhile. It’s interesting that the media outlets are so interested in pursuing relatively innovative ways to cover the by-election. There seems to be a lot of experimentation among Scottish media outlets as they work out how to survive the current choppy waters. The increasingly common use of blogging and podcasting by Scottish newspapers is certainly to be welcomed.
But it’s interesting that all of this innovative digital activity should surround a by-election taking place in east Glasgow. In a way, you could hardly pick a worse city in which to pursue this sort of strategy. Glasgow is firmly on the wrong side of the digital divide. A study by Ofcom conducted last year found that only 32% of homes in Glasgow had broadband, and that Glaswegians are significantly less likely to own a PC than the average Brit.
No doubt someone is paying attention to these virtual hustings. But it is more likely to be middle-class political geeks than the actual voters of north-east Glasgow.