Welcome to PICamp, Belfast…

We’ve been promising to try out a ‘Unconference’ around a lot of the issues that concern Slugger’s readers and posters. We’ve now fixed a date for this – Tuesday 26th May, 2pm – 6pm. The PICAMP site is up-and-running and you can register to join and start suggesting conversations and themes for the day.

There are a total of 110 tickets available for the event and it’s completely free of charge to come along.

And what’s on the agenda? Well, that’s the point: You decide. All we’re interested in is a positive problem-solving dialogue.

It’s not got to be a party-political bunfight and we’re looking for people to come along with ideas and imagination to address the big political challenges Northern Ireland is facing.

We won’t have a formal agenda and there are no top-down speakers. When you register, we’ll ask you if there’s anything that you’d particularly like to speak about and if you’d like to prepare talk lasting just a few minutes to kick off conversations on your pet subject.

When you arrive on the day, you’ll be able to pitch your idea and we’ll see which ideas have ‘takers’ – the venue will allow us to run three or four conversation groups at a time and we’re aiming for four or five 45 minute sessions.

There are a few conversations that we’ll be hoping to have. For instance, we’ll be interested to hear what Slugger readers have to say about the collapse in local journalism.

While media revenues are collapsing all over the world, who will hold government – from local to national level – to account when news becomes a commodity?
In Northern Ireland’s imperfect and developing democracy, who, if anyone, will undertake the role that a robust and well-funded broadcast / print media is retreating from?

This is an issue for the quality of democracy. It’s also a structural problem for Northern Ireland’s economy – many creative jobs rely upon a vibrant and effective local media.

We’ll want to know what you think this all means for the quality of government as well. All over the world, the cosy old compact between politicians and journalists has been busted right open – what do you think will replace it?

But that’s enough from us. Let us know what you think – but register first – the site will guide you through the rest of it.

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