You can’t Have Your Say and eat it

Interesting article on the BBC site: "Web fuelling crisis in politics". As a rule, I tend to find any government proclamation on the state of the web patronising at best, dangerously ill-informed at worst - but, for once, I'm in agreement. I find the majority of political blogs little more than infantile, partisan nonsense. This is normally countered by the stultifying suggestion that one can achieve a thorough knowledge of a topic simply by reading two contrasting and equally biased pieces.

This isn't confined to new media of course - news orgs are largely the same and, yes, I'm quite aware that the paper I read (Guardian, natch) is guilty too. But there, opinion should act as the starting point for debate. As Ben Hammersley has said, no one buys newspapers for news any more. The web and 24-hour news channels will always be first for immediate unfolding reportage. Newspapers have to reposition themselves as channels for editorial and debate.

The news orgs that 'get it' - GuardianTelegraphBBC come to mind - are starting to open up in this way. Sure, the results aren't pretty (particular the latter - Have Your Sayis home to some of the most rabid prejudice and catfights I've seen) but at least they're starting something genuinely interactive. I don't see political blogs doing the same, despite the rhetoric of two-way communication and citizen activism. Instead, I only see the negativity and criticism that seems to blight our perception of politics.

Cynicism is healthy in small doses, but sometimes I think politicians get it right. It's time to move on from the name-calling and sniping, and start using the citizen's new voice for positive benefit.

Cennydd Bowles