#Polis2015: General Election among new media and discouraged young voters

Reports, notes, and further info from the series of conference Journalism & Elections

Photo Credit: John Keane

TV channel has been overcome.
Politics happens somewhere else. News, debates, manifestos, do not need anymore the traditional medium to reach their audience’s houses.
The 2015 General Election candidates can get known by other means. Or they may slide into indifference, as web forums would increasingly not care about politics. But always through different ways from the TV.

News has changed. Or it is better to say: the way news is delivered has changed.
And the relation between politicians and voters cannot be thought as in the past – even in a comparison with the recent past 2010 General Election.

Technology is a revolution. Along with the difficulties in approaching young people, tech innovations were one of the main points in question for Vote 2015!, the sixth Polis Journalism Conference.
The event, held on the 27th of March from 9:30 to 17:00, has seen the participation of broadcasters, campaigners, and journalists’ trainers.

The event was practically divided into different spaces, Sheikh Zayed, Wolfson, and Thai Theatre at the London School of Economics, with three conferences on at the same time in each place.

I personally had the chance to attend only the morning session, but interesting speeches and space to debate new ideas have gone on.

2015: A Post-TV Election?

Adam Boulton
Photo Credit: Cristiana Ferrauti
“Technology is driving us,” said Adam Boulton, presenter of Sky News Tonight and ex-political editor for Sky News.
“More information is available. Therefore, broadcasters could not only deliver information about political debates, but should collect the material, compare, analyse, and bring the debate on.”

Adam Boulton
Photo Credit: Cristiana Ferrauti
The challenge for journalists, as he explains, is to find new thinking about the role and the aim of political debates.
How may broadcasters attract more viewers?

According to a recent report by Childwise, children between 5 and 16 years old spend on average more than 6 hours in front of the screen. The time is twice the period surveyed in 1995, with the difference that when we talk about the screen we do not refer anymore only to the TV’s one.

As a reply, Adam Boulton play one of the last online campaign video by Tories, a cartoon where Miliband is a puppet in Alex Salmond’s hands. The Labour, as far as the conservatives want them to be depicted, would not really lead the country, but, instead, the Scottish National Party would “call the tune.”

“These are just examples of new forms of campaigning. The format and its sharing across social media, also, try to speak to young voters.”

The electorate is in a fractioned and disillusioned moon. The media risk to enter into a vicious cycle of disillusion.

New tools and platforms: Twitter & The Guardian

When talking about radical changes in the way we deliver the news, social media play an essential role.
Joanna Geary
Photo Credit: Cristiana Ferrauti
That is why Joanna Geary, The Guardian’s digital development editor, train newsrooms to new digital practices, by using the latest tools for research stories and discover the trends in their audience.

Twitter comes first and foremost as an example.

Twitter's figures - in more than 140 characters
Vine, multi-photo, animated gift, emoji, and mobile videos are some of the additional gadgets that can really attract more users thus, more viewers/readers/audience.

Web-twitter tools:
Twittersearch - for news gathering
TweetDeck for monitoring and scheduled tweets.

The aim is to make the news more eye-catching. The same objective is in the list for the Data section of The Guardian.

Alberto Nardelli
Photo Credit: Cristiana Ferrauti
“More data than ever before have been introduced – said Alberto Nardelli, data editor at The Guardian -, but it doesn't come as natural consequence that more human knowledge has been introduced.
The important questions to bear in mind when delivering statistics, surveys, or other figures are: Why these numbers matters? How relevant are for people's lives?
The challenge for data journalism is to tell the stories behind numbers in a more compelling, relevant, insightful, original way.

There are many ways to tell a story, Mr Nardelli continues.

Some examples?
1)       Short compelling stories, which tell one or two bits of information. A lot of data, but conveyed in simple visual approach.

2)       Insightfulness and analysis of those data. It is mainly about the stories, and the people around the data. http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/datablog/2015/mar/27/asylum-applications-rich-countries-highest-since-1992

3)       Attractive graphs, data, figures.
For example, how to represent changes from the last election and how do they make polling interesting?
People may not be so interested in detailed polls, but they would look more at the potential combinations between results and policies, says Alberto Nardelli. Thus, the challenge: how to illustrate these combinations.

Photo Credit: Cristiana Ferrauti

Engaging Young People in Politics - Showcase

Photo Credit: Cristiana Ferrauti
The turnout for General Election has decreased over the years.
We do not want to repeat ourselves Рas the disinterest in politics has become a clich̩ - , but the problem becomes even worse when looking Рagain Рat the percentage for the 18-34 years old agegroup.

“We are trying to get politics into the concept of Virility, like Buzzfeed style,” said Danny Bartlett, founder of Hand Up Who’s Bored.

Photo Credit: Cristiana Ferrauti
Matteo Bergamini, founder and director of Shout Out UK, instead, looks at the problem as a different kind of participation by the new generations.
“It is not a matter that youth do not care about social issues, he said, but they do not believe or trust the system we live in.”

Shout Out UK covers alternative movements, like Anonymous. These are new forms of engagement.
“Alternative movements exist because young people do not feel engage with the traditional politics. They attend, instead, these other forms because they are angry.”

“Voting seem a very passive act, for generations who look for a more active participation. – said Georgia Gould, Labour Councillor for Camden – Here come new, different, non-traditional form of engagement with politics, like poetry, YouTube videos, blogging.”
Georgia – 24 years old - highlighted also the fact that young people are often seen as a problem by the current political narrative, instead of a potential for real change”

Nick Phipps, editor for Sky News election output, talked about the necessity of a new way to address the main issues the youth cares about.
A digital platform. That’s the idea.
“One of the big surprises was to discover how easy it was to integrate what was in the main political agenda,” he said.

AskThe Leaders event - broadcast by Sky News and hosted by Facebook – was probably one of the most interesting experience, as they managed to get the leaders from the four major political parties answering to the questions by the young voters.

Are we talking just about problems?

Conferences, further research on the web, and even the TV switched on - very few times, honestly, but it can still happen -, what arrive to a disillusioned/confused voter is a continuous talking about the "youth" problem - in addition to the financial, migrants', education, and-so-on problems politicians often talk about.

However, after a look at the Vote 2015!'s programme, a new and general debate around digital platforms rises.
The two "issues" are linked.
And I put the word "issues" between quotation marks as to remember the reader how double sides these matters can result.

Are they realistically a problem?
Or could they easily become a powerful #resource?
#vote and #share
#debate can help to figure it out.