In our reckoning a functioning democracy, four major elements are required. A committment from politicians themselves to continue to communicate to the electorate throughout the period of their mandate. A conversational public, ie a body voters who are prepared to deliberate on the issues of the day. A bureaucracy that is prepared to respond and change according to new political initiatives. And a press that is prepared to act as a candid friend to the political. By which I mean that it is critical when it has to be critical, but is not afraid to lay plaudits where plaudits are due.That’s not a easy trick to pull off. It requires sceptical inquiry, rather than giving into the temptation to be cynical about politics and the whole political class. Something akin to what John Lloyd of the RReuters Institute has described as civic journalism:
…which defies its own instincts – to make celebrities of itself; which acts as an adjunct to activity and reflection; which presents to its audience first drafts of history which are absorbing and subtle, strong on narrative but attentive to the complexity and context of every story; which is not struggling with political power, but struggling, together with that power’s best instinct to make the contemporary world at once comprehensible and opne to the participation of its citizens.
So which of our journalists are making the switch from troubles to peace? Who is bringing clarity on the challenges facing our unseasoned politicians? Prepared to ask the tough questions, and to make reasoned judgement when a politician comes through?
You decide. But tell us why you think the judges should seriously consider each candidate you put forward. Tell us what you like about their work and why they should win.
The Slugger Awards are about promoting a better quality of politics in Northern Ireland. Its not a forum to continue long-held grudges or a general cynicism about politics – and journalists have taken more than their fair share of brick bats on that in the past. As we’ve said before Sluggers normal light-touch moderation policy will be tightened up on this one, so please continue to keep it positive.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty