Blogposts, links & podcasts

Pilot 19: Activate The #Memes

I’ve written about the deep-seated resistance to innovation in British politics before. The new Tory ‘youth movement’ unleashed at the height of silly season is yet another example of chronic lack of imagination.

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Pilot #9: Grenfell Mayday

British news is stuck in a disaster rut. Grenfell is the latest in a line of horrific stories about mass tragedies. Somehow, all the violence seems to blur together. What emerges is a picture of an unhappy nation.

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Pilot #5: Manifestos On My Mind

This is a longer edition of the pod because we wanted to take an in-depth look at the manifestos of the three major parties. In particular we focused on the following issues:

– Brexit
– Defence and foreign policy
– Tax and the economy

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Pilot #4: The Zac Goldsmith Fan Club

I’ve written and said this a lot. The biggest problem with contemporary politics is that not enough people vote.

The horror elections of recent times come down to small, angry minorities voting in numbers while the rest of the population tries their hardest to ignore the whole process. There are bunch of reasons that so many people look at their electoral options and shrug. There’s been three decades of neoliberal consensus pushing mainstream left and right parties together – the things that the likely parties disagree on became less tangible. Why bother getting out to vote (let alone campaign) if there aren’t any real options?

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Pilot #3: Outsiders Strike Back

Finally, Europe got some good news as sanity’s Emmanuel Macron beat the Front National candidate Marine Le Pen for the French Presidency. That gave us an unusual chance to say some halfway positive things about contemporary politics before we caught up with other news and duly relapsed into negativity. We can’t have listeners getting too excited about politics.

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“All factories must close one day, but there’s something particularly brutal about a factory being closed because its owners have found cheaper labour elsewhere… not because [the workers] had done anything wrong, or because their products weren’t selling, or because the factory was unprofitable, but because Polish replacements could do the same job for less than one fifth of the money.”

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‘When we were a team of two we could cover only one or two stories a day anyway. Now that we had expanded, we wondered if we should be dedicating more producers to “hard news”. The question of how we would balance coverage of important stories on subjects such as wars, floods, protests, elections or bombings with lighter, more social media-friendly ones was a tricky one. Often, hard news would win because it was deemed “more important”. The result was that a lot of stories about battles or protests that were picture-poor, progressively performed worse, and didn’t add much to the global conversation.’ – AJ Labs

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Why media freedom isn’t a distraction

Why media freedom isn’t a distraction

Last week's Economist ran two stories about interactions between the Chinese government and media outlets. In an attempt to connect the dots between these stories, I will be examining the underlying narrative of these: the growing tension between the twin charms of...

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“This need for more pageviews and impressions also led to what can only be described as the excruciating user experience of most local news sites. Slow load times? Check. Pop-up ads? Yes sir! Auto-play video? Of course! Forty-page slide shows? Why not? User experience? Sorry, not familiar with that term.”

Jim Brady

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Blocking ads isn’t good enough

Blocking ads isn’t good enough

Blocking ads is the new normal. People already self-censor online, as a Pew Research Center study showed, because they are worried about the potential amplification of their opinions through social media sites. Younger people, in particular, are painfully aware of...

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Is Medium getting political?

Is Medium getting political?

Producing guides about being popular on Medium is a cottage industry. There are breakdowns of the most popular posts that look for patterns and there are great long lists of the top posts (such lists are themselves very popular).There are statistical analyses that...

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Cutting out the middle men

Cutting out the middle men

Trump's White House team have declared war on the media. In this age of prosumers and vast new networks of media organisations challenging traditional media powers, who needs the media industry to reach the general public? In the private sector, this sort of question...

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Who will win over Russia?

Who will win over Russia?

"The paradox of Russia’s recent resurgence is that, for all its refusals to fall into line with Washington’s priorities, it is still in no position to mount a frontal challenge to the West. In terms of military might, economic weight and ideological reach, Russia is...

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The celebrification of politics

The celebrification of politics

Trump is President. My social media feeds are abuzz with the news that Oprah Winfrey may be running for president in 2020. The celebrification of politics is upon us. Winfrey is a billionaire television personality who previously dismissed the idea of running for...

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Policy analysis vs. post-truth politics

Policy analysis vs. post-truth politics

Doing policy analysis is complicated, technical and time consuming. The public shouldn’t be expected to take that on. Perhaps the growing disdain towards the mainstream media is partly an expression of frustration for the types of content the public is receiving, such as clickbait. With more attention paid to nitty gritty policy analysis, the media could begin to rebuild its credibility. Media organisations that nobody trusts are no match for post-truth politics.

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