Conversations with Kathleen – the dry run

Long time Slugger contributor and material provider Kathleen has recently been driving forward a new avenue for Slugger. She has proactively sourced numerous women politicians who have agreed to hold a series of recorded informal conversations on ‘Women politicians and their experiences of politics in the north of Ireland’ commencing next week.

As yet Kathleen is unsure how these conversations will be presented, if she will blog them herself (something both Mick and I would really prefer), how they’ll develop and where the project will end up.

Since I’ve been supporting the idea of more user generated content and ‘citizen journalism’ when discussing the project with Kathleen today she doorstepped me, interviewed me and even though I’m very uncomfortable with putting this up, particularly my hair, at her request I’m posting some of the conversation we had.

This is part of developing a series of potentially very interesting interviews with women politicians and while we’d welcome any constructive feedback for Kathleen anyone taking the slightest piss out of me will find themselves deleted.

The informality, conversational intent and providing the space for in-depth discussion on a topic pretty much overlooked by the MSM is something we’d love to see develop and as a result I present – Kathleen in conversation with Mark (scundered for me).

Blogging at:

  • William

    Mark….Your hair is not bad, but certainly not a ‘Quiggy’; however, that gansy is just wile luking.

  • Mark McGregor


    First time I’ve ever had my dress sense criticised in Ulster-Scots. I’ll treasure this moment.

    But the idea in posting this was for feedback on how to make it work better once Kathleen starts the interviews proper.

  • Dewi

    Good new development – and your mugs are pretty cool as well.

  • baslamak

    I have two important questions, what does scundered mean and what was your hair like before?

    As to the video, a good idea, Kate is fine, she has a nice voice and manner although she must get some practice with intervening, after all the women who she will be talking to are politicians.

    Having said this, with Mark to practice on she has just the right man, as shutting him up looks harder than getting a word in with Paxman 😉 only kidding.

    Good stuff

  • Microhard

    I think it is telling that over 2 hours, the only comments that you have gotten are pisstakes.

    My opinion is, it was a fairly typical run of the mill ‘women need to get involved in politics’ jumping on the bandwagon session. To be honest I quit watching after 5 mins. It bored me and I couldn’t resist flicking through other websites while it was on.

    Good for you for at least trying though. But this simply did not work

  • Mark McGregor

    Some seem to be missing what is happening with this entry. It ain’t about me or my ramblings.

    Kathleen has set up an extensive series of informal interviews with women politicians from across the spectrum. This was a dry run for the format with me being a guinea-pig on the issue.

    So what needs fixed (if anything) before she does it for real?

  • Dewi

    “So what needs fixed (if anything) before she does it for real?”

    The tablecloth – sorry don’t mean that – should be cool.

  • Great project, but Kathleen needs to take more control of the interview – more questions and shorter answers. There are some very interesting issues about women in politics that could be covered, some of which of course are not limited to NI. For example:

    – women don’t all agree on everything e.g. on abortion, so exactly how will more women in politics bring about any kind of change?
    – how do women deal with divisions amongst ourselves e.g. class, religious background? Do women approach disagreement differently?
    – discuss the sterotype that women will want to be involved in health, childcare and so on as we are more ‘caring’ (hah!)
    – the importance of developing competence in public speaking, chairing meetings and dealing with the press – it does no-one any good if women are thrown into jobs they are not ready for
    – and to what extent women should challenge abuse (e.g. on grounds of appearance) and how much we should just put up with it as politics is a tough game.

    You go, girl!

  • USA

    Obviously there is potential in this “informal” video format for “citizen journalism”.
    Through my professional life I have watched a number of interviews by Dr. Ralph Wilson. You can find examples of his format here and here. Ignore the content but keep an eye on the presentation. For example, the first video is blurry but note that he uses text for peoples names and to highlight the issues as the conversation develops. Ultimately however, for Dr. Wilson the content is everything and the format is not so important, a combination of both engaging content and good presentation would increase the likelyhood of a winning combination. Perhaps they may help give you some ideas.

  • McGrath


    Fair play to you for taking the initiative, etc. But the poor girl was on the receiving end of your political perspective. Perfect, flawed or otherwise perceived it was at most a half-duplex debate.

    If you can find others to have a live citizen debate, maybe about hotter topics, I will be riveted.

  • blinding

    What jenny said.
    There very good suggestions Jenny.

    Kathleen dont let your guests go off on such monologues no matter how much they love the sweet sound of their own advice(only partially joking Mark)

    Kathleen speak up what you have to say is just as important as your guests.
    Or at least it has to be heard clearly and may damn well be better than your guests contributions.

  • Kathleen

    Guys thanks for the input.

    What we’re trying to do is create a ‘conversational space for women’. It was an idea that once started took on a life of its own but it has been enjoyable and a huge learning curve.

    Mark has forwaded me the contact details of someone who will help me with the tech stuff to make it more professional. Hopefully he’ll get in contact soon.

    Tomorrow Marie Hendron is coming but next week Deidre Nelson and three other women ( I believe two DUP one Alliance and one SF) will come and discuss politics. Womens voices discussing political issues of the day. Naiomi Long has pencilled me in for Wed. the 10 at 11. Chris from her office is a great guy and very helpfull.

    Marks contact has called me, and hopefully will be here Thursday to professionalise the tech stuff.

    Its been a learning curve and I appreciate all your patience.

  • I only hope that this will be a discussion of politics that happens to be by women, rather than the type of shallow nonsense we used to see from the Women’s Coalition about how women were better conciliators etc.

    I do think a clearer agenda from the interviewer will be necessary.

  • Kathleen

    We’re working on the agenda Gary.

    As regards the setting, we’ll be moving to a living room setting, two settees, with Marie in one corner of the settee, and myself in the other, so that we’re facing each other and the camera. Sound and lighting will be improved. Thanks to Mark’s contact Keith for this input, and he’ll be calling Thursday to talk more.

    As for next week, it’ll be Diedre Nelson, (God bless her!) who will be chairing the talks. I’m just doing the tech stuff.

    We’ll improve the format with an intro and clear agenda, but we don’t want to be over formal. The whole idea was to get away from that formal setting into the informal setting.

    This is due to Mark getting another email with some really good constructive criticism in it. Please anyone, don’t be afraid to do that.

    And if you’re out there and want to hold a discussion on anything contact me and we can talk about it, on any issue from any group.

  • That’s fair enough Kathleen. I agree a balance can be struck between formal and informal, that keeps things focused and moving along while not straight q&a;

  • PUP

    It is a nice idea and was a good move to do a dry run.

    Obviously the questioning will take on a different dimension once the elected women are in front of you and will probably develop more organically.

    The ‘production’ was my only real criticism, the sound was pretty low (at full level) even on my otherwise pretty loud system.

    How come no Dawn Purvis? 🙂 She was even name checked by Mark in the interview but doesn’t appear to be on your ‘to do’ list above.

  • Kathleen

    PUP, no worries, the list is not finished. I’ve discussed this with Mick who wants balance, and thats what I’ll strive for. But what I have here is enough to cope with for now. When we get through this list then I’ll contact others. Still to get back to me is Anna Lo and I’ve been in contact with the UUP, whom you mights see as missing also from the list. I’ve e mailed and rang them twice, spoke just now to a very nice lady on the phone who assures me that my e mail has been forwarded to those in charge of communictions.

    As for charing these debates. I’m not the most interesting of people 🙂 I say that honestly, so we’re open to someone charing these discussions. Different people for different discussions.

    If there is one thing I know about this blog is that its open to everybody to get involved. Anything I’ve ever sent has been mostly welcomed, so I urge anyone out there who wants to get involved to give me an e mail and get involved.

    How about it PUP or Garibaldy? It doesn’t have to be a woman charing the debate. Or another woman reader?

    Come on guys – get involved.

  • Danny Boy

    I’ll be very interested in seeing these. If you can possibly get Dawn Purvis, do! She’s really interesting. I would like to know about how and why these women went into politics, and how much they think things are different for young women entering politics now. It would be fascinating to hear them talk about how their own parties have treated them, though obviously most would find it easier to talk about how sexist themmuns are. I’d love to hear their perspectives on the classic problem of how women can play a full role in the struggles of their class/race/religion without being, yet again, thrust towards the tea table/department of education and out of the history books when the war is over. Similarly, how do they think women can pursue their common interests in a political system built on such divisions?

  • deirdre nelson

    Oh Help!! I think you lot are expecting miracles next week and it’s still a wee bit early in the year for that sort of thing. I’ll do my best and I think it’ll probably be quite organic. I know there’s a lot of food for thought so be patient with us please. Fingers crossed:-)

  • The Devil

    In all honesty Big Kate the women that you are sticking a microphone in front of are not grippingly interesting enough to captivate an audience on slugger.
    What in my view would be a much more lively and without question much more entertaining project would be to interview Slugger contributors/posters and ask them their views on tape.

    Imagine having Chris Donnelly as the interviewee god you could have some fun smacking him over the head with the microphone every time he contradicted himself

  • Kathleen

    much more entertaining project would be to interview Slugger contributors/posters and ask them their views on tape.

    Ah devil your post isn’t as scathing as I thought it’d be 🙂 but I knew you’d be along. 🙂

    Heres the thing devil, it would be impossible to go round every commentator for a discussion, and secondly they can do that themselves. A small cam corder costing a few quid can get you hooked up, and posting responses on you tube. Maybe mick or mark could do a web cam daily blog burst if your suggestion really took off. It’d be nice to see the faces behind the words.

    As for the women not being interesting. For some no matter what women say – it’d never be interesting, others prepared to give them a hearing to see whether or not they are interesting…

    Are you up for getting involved in any way devil?

    C’mon devil…. give us a shout and get stuck in.

  • Kathleen

    Our interview list is expanding.

    We now have Monica McWilliams on December 16, and we are awaiting details for Dawn Purvis..

  • The Devil

    Ah Kathleen you’re warming the cockles of my heart you oul sweet talker.
    I hope you’re not counting me in with the “not interested in women brigade” because when it comes to politics i’m absolutely bisexual.

    Give me.
    The old Bernadette Devlin
    The old May Blood when she was still full blooded
    A Marion Price or an Iris Robinson at anytime
    Or a Miriam Daly or Ann Dickson
    Hell I even have a thing for Marget Ritchie

    Spare me.
    The new Bernadette McAllisky
    The new May Blood
    Naomi Long
    Anna Lo
    Any of the Shinner airheads (christ what droning nonsense)
    Community workers (more droning garbage)

    You see Kathleen this Political bi-sexual stuff is all about passion, if there’s no passion there’s no point!

    Now Kathleen while were on the subject do you want me to take you home again 🙂

  • Kathleen

    Now Kathleen while were on the subject do you want me to take you home again 🙂

    You can if you like you oul charmer.

    I remember the old Bernadette but things have moved on from pulling peoples hair to get your point accross. May Blood still does it for me. Have you read her book, you should, it’ll take you back. She’s a great gal, I heard her speak once and she held the whole room in the palm of her hand.

    Naiomi has passion and Anna has charm.

    The new girls on the block are as interesting and as passionate as those that went before them. Come on devil give the interviewing a shot, or tag along and write a little piece.

  • catchagrip

    Mark, what about you doing an interview with Willie Frazer?

  • The Serpent

    Mark, what about you doing an interview with Willie Frazer?

    Posted by catchagrip on Dec 01, 2008 @ 05:00 PM

    I wouuld have thought Willie Frazer was more than capable of interviewing himself……..

  • latcheeco

    I wonder can she get Milly Tant from Viz? She’s the only one I take seriously on women and issues and women’s issues. Can’t help feeling some poor fella will be waiting patiently for his supper to be made while these interviews are going on.

  • Danny Boy

    I wonder if Slugger would tolerate racist comments in the way it does sexist ones.

  • William

    Danny Boy…..They may not tolerate racist comments but they certainly tolerate libellous comments, such as those that have been posted all week-end about the attack on Willie Frazer, Yet Mick Fealty did nothing about it….He allowed these to stage on the blog…[no ball not man – Moderated, Ed] This was a disgrace action in allowing this poisonous, spiteful, sectarian, anti-Protestant, anti-Unionist hatred against Mr. Frazer to appear on this site. And not a mention either from that once doyen of N.I. Journalism, Mr. Brian Walker.

  • William

    Sorry about a couple of typo errors on above posting…

    ‘stage’ should read ‘stay’

    ‘disgrace’ should read ‘disgraceful’