Slugger Awards: Call for media category pitches…

Right, so now we’re going to get serious about crunching down the new categories for this year’s Slugger Awards. Unlike previous years we want you to set down what makes a good politician/good journalist/member of civil society.

We already have a long list of qualities people think would make politics better. But as our resident wit, FitzJamesHorse, notes it would be “hard to get all of that engraved on the plinth of the award.”

So now – to make things more manageable – we’re looking for pitches from people to turn the best of these ideas into an actual award category. So we’re asking you to email me (editor@sluggerotoole.com) with a suggested title for your category and a 100 word outline of what it means in practice.

We’re aiming at getting about ten suggestions which we’ll then boil down to a final three or four at the Belfast Political Innovation event in later November. If I think you’ve given us a good idea below I may even come after you to ask you to write it up for Slugger.

Ideally, I want have one of these threads on the bubble on Slugger almost every day between now and then. In the meantime, here’s a refresher on the ideas from the previous thread on how the Media could improve politics. Remember these are just raw fragments.

What we need now is suggestions for set categories. We’re looking for volunteers – people who will read this thread, pick the idea that appeals to you most and formally present it as an award idea. Just send us the title and a 100 word description

… analyse and then report on the issues in greater depth, take into consideration the views of young people who are active members of the communities in which we live, and in turn, recognise the impact the language in which they use has on policy, law and communities.

…research more stories over rehashing press releases.

… use independent thought to create new stories from scratch.

…be fearless of getting on the wrong side of elected representatives.

…going after stories where the trophy isn’t necessarily the politician’s head on a stick but something a bit more slow-boil like some senior civil servant or QUANGO chief.

… challenge their own community.

… realise their first responsibility is to democracy, then their readers.

…expose more and scare the bejasus out of them.

…not have so much interference from the lawyers and get on with telling the truth.

…realise that while destroying is fun, building is hard work.

…varied its sources more.

…went into more detail.

…organised stories’ history better online.

…had a more international focus.

…be honest and ethical in how they attain their stories.

…hold other media outlets to account.

…make reality shows about problems in communities ie unemployment, homelessness, drug abuse, alcoholism, teenage pregnancy and domestic violence etc. instead of big brother type trash TV.

…cover European news more.

…look at countries facing or that have faced similar problems and challenge our representatives to learn from ‘other solutions’.

…recognise the diversity in NI by not restricting stories to what emerges from “two” kinds of imagined communities.

…refuse to disseminate pro-state propaganda but rather act to defend the people from the state rather than defend the state from the people.

… acknowledge which other media (mainstream media and new media) they sourced their material and quotes from.

…apply the same rules to themselves as they do to the rest of us.

Broaden the political agenda of the Troubles legacy to embrace policy with more specialist reporting on the economy and business. education, health, real council stories. (With notable exceptions this is a huge deficiency).

Revive the traditional virtues of fuller reporting generally.
( Assembly proceedings seem to be largely ignored)

Provide more background analysis and news features to accompany major running stories.

Separate fact from opinion more clearly.

Report and reflect ” the other side ” more fully as an editorial policy

Continue to develop more informed opinion from wider constituencies outside the office.

Increase the volume of coverage from the Republic, without there necessarily being a northern connection.

Insititute occasional ” Letters from..” to report and compare the different experiences of the devolved UK and the Republic

Institute much bolder interaction for rebutttal, correction, apology and debate.

Don’t be afraid to go a little upmarket – you might even win readers. At the same time, ease up on trying to be Ulster’s little Daily Mail. Develop our own thriving popular culture, north, south and beyond. Sadly Eddie McIlwaine won’t live forever ( though for a good deal longer, I hope)

…remove the anonymity from sources that limits political accountability.

…all question as vigourously as Eamonn Mallie.

…take a leaf out of Seamus Mckee’s book.

…compel journalists to sign up to a code of ethics and to have their individual performances reviewed every year by a panel of people from professions with a higher public standing……solicitors, doctors, politicians, estate agents”

…Spoke truth to power.

Okay, now send your award ideas to editor@sluggerotoole.com. In the interests of making it fresh us the comments zone to ask questions or pressing for clarity, but don’t post your ideas below…

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