Archive for the ‘Politics’ category

The Podcasting Politician

November 21, 2006

Senator Joe O'TooleThere’s been a share of discussion about the desirability of encouraging our public representatives to blog. It seems like an ideal application of the medium, allowing politicians to go “on the record” on a range of issues, have more say in how they are represented in online conversations, and engage in a meaningful way with the electorate.

However, one Oireachtas member in particular has evaluated the options available and decided against blogging – in favour of podcasting.

Independent Senator Joe O’Toole is the special guest today on An Líonra Sóisialta. Speaking in Irish, Senator O’Toole describes how he goes about producing his weekly podcast, My Week This Week, which has been running for almost a year. And it’s all his own work too! The Senator uses his Apple Mac to write the script, record and edit, encode to MP3, and upload to the internet the 5 minute monologue which takes the form of a letter from Leinster House.

“This is the first time in a quarter-century that a technogy has come to us which allows a person’s personality to be put forward”, says Senator O’Toole, explaining that he prefers podcasting to blogging because he feels that the spoken word conveys more authenticity than the written word can.

Senator O’Toole is elected by graduates of the National University of Ireland and he sees the podcast as one way to communicate with his constituency which is spread all over the world. It has also found an audience on a number of radio stations in Ireland who broadcast the weekly bulletins giving an insider’s view of Leinster House.

You can subscribe to My Week This Week at


Guido Fawkes Doesn’t Know What He’s Talking About

October 15, 2006

Don’t get me wrong – he knows his political blogging alright!  I thoroughly enjoyed his speech to the “Blogging the Election” Irish Bloggers Conference in Dublin last weekend.  Guido‘s at the top of his game, with the British political establishment, the media – and now advertisers – eating out of his hand.

Opening the conference, Sunday Tribune Business Editor, Richard Delevan suggested that one possible metric for a blogger’s “impact” might be whether they attract the notice of the mainstream press.  Guido has done more than attract their notice: he frequently sets the agenda, as in the case of the cash for peerages investigation where his reporting of the story has earned him the trust of sources closest to the case.

Like Richard and others, Guido brings old-media craft to bear on the new medium of blogging.  By doing do he leaves both bloggers and “dead-tree” journalists in the starting blocks.

I’m trying to do something similar with podcasting.  (Have you noticed? 😉 )  So Guido certainly had my attention when he declared: “Podcasting is dead!”

It’s a great soundbite of course!  (Remember, Guido’s a media pro.)  And it was delivered so well that I might even have given it serious consideration – if it wasn’t for where I was sitting when I heard it.

As I listened to Guido, I was in my car, skimming down the Dock Road in Limerick on my way to work.  (It was very early in the morning!)   Due to work constraints I was unable to physically attend the conference in Dublin, but I’ve been glad of the opportunity to hear the presentations on and see the photographs tagged irishblogcon.

Guido made these comments in the context of telling us that he would shortly start a video blog.  By “podcasting”, he means “audio podcasting”, and he declared emphatically that “nobody listens to them on iPods … they all click on the screen and listen to it in front of their computer, so you might as well listen and see the video.”

Ironically, earlier in his speech, Guido had rather patronisingly given his Irish audience the benefit of his abortive experiences as an audio podcaster.  This can be summed up as: “Don’t bother trying it … I have, and it’s disastrous … It’s a lot harder than you think and that’s the reason that radio people get paid so much …”.

Oh … OK.  Thanks for the advice Guido.  Obviously video production is a lot easier then?  (And by the way, how much do radio people get paid?  Must look into that …)

To be fair, I think what Guido is trying to say is that video provides more value to the consumer – and that that in turn leads to a better Return On Investment for the producer.  But if that is true, where does it leave radio?

I don’t know how elections campaigns are debated in Britain, but talk radio shows are a crucial arena in Ireland.

As an audio producer, I would be inclined to dispute Guido’s assumption of video’s superior Return On Investment.  I suspect that that it is wrong, both on the Cost side and the Benefit side.  However, I wouldn’t get up on a podium and declare this to be a Fact.

We’re all blinkered by our own experience, and it appears that Guido simply doesn’t “get” the key advantages of “anytime, anywhere, audio-on-demand”.  I must confess that, until recently, I didn’t “get” video blogging either.  At least not until I started researching YouTube for a forthcoming feature on An Líonra Sóisialta.  ( donlionra+week05)

So is cheap, user-friendly technology putting video production into the hands of the laity?  Of course – just like blogging and audio podcasting are doing for those kinds of media.  Is video blogging a better ROI than audio podcasting?  Ask me after Christmas, when I give it a go!  Do people only listen to podcasts on their computer?  Hardly – but what do I know?  You tell me!