There is much debate whether the advance of new media tolls the death knell of old media. True, it is easier to access the news you want, from a range of media outlets, from a single PC screen (an it is more environmental). However a safer bet is that old media will evolve to provide an online resource (as most do) but as a brand trusted for providing a certain style and content will retain a large audience. This allows the media brand more scope to offer a wider range of news and serve their audience better.
Newbury Weekly News has certainly taken these ideas on board and are offering the local people a political forum and their council election candidates the potential of the Internet without the hassle of creating their own online presence. Their website is putting readers questions to the candidates and publishing the answers on the hottest topics: today it is recycling! Given that council elections seem preoccupied with a mixture of local and national issues, and that voters like the big issues to be translated into political outputs that shape their life experience, this seems invaluable for democracy.
Why invaluable, because it forces the parties and candidates to engage with the issues people really care about. As commented elsewhere on this blog, for politics to appear interesting it must engage with voter's lives and aspirations and offer real choice. I suggest it is not about who leads the party, but what will the leader do for me that gets voters into the ballot box. Whether the party responses to the question posed by Carmel Owens (44 yr old Newbury resident) offer real choice is debatable without understanding the full context of their comments, and I don't live in Newbury so I do not claim that; but such initiatives offer the responses voters need when asked to make their choices. Maybe this should be a key function of the local newspapers during elections!
What must be remembered is that new media is not a magic bullet, you must have the 'pull' factor. If you wonder what theat means see the blog by Lisa Chambers (left) a Forest Heath District Councillor, it reads as little more than a chat between her and Robin (who uses the comments to tell Lisa that: May get a call from Sue McAllister about a visit at Studlands this week) sadly her efforts seem to have no pull at all.