Politics and the web

By on 17/09/2009 in Blog

Cllr Paul Tilsley, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, writes about being on a panel at an event this evening called Recasting the Net.

During the event, being staged at Austin Court in Cambridge Street, a specially invited audience will discuss how online tools are transforming politics…

Cllr Paul Tilsley

Cllr Paul Tilsley

Tonight I have the honour of being one of the speakers at an event being staged by POLIS, as part of the ongoing dialogue between the media and citizens on what shape 'Digital Britain' should take following on from Lord Carter's recent report.

The panel will be looking at a subject that will undoubtedly be of immense interest to those reading this blog - the implications of digital media on politics.

I will be joined on the panel by people including former Labour MP Tony Benn and Charlie Elphicke, Conservative parliamentary candidate for Dover, which means that the debate will be lively on political grounds if nothing else!

As the chair of the Digital Birmingham partnership, in effect the city's digital champion, I feel everyone needs to embrace emerging technologies as quickly as we can - both politicians and citizens alike.

This is because residents have much to gain from being at the forefront of the digital media revolution. Instead of having just a few media outlets to choose from like in years gone by, the internet has led to an explosion of news sources that cater for specialised interest groups, empowering people like never before.

Politicians can't turn a blind eye to this, because as people are becoming more media literate they can challenge authority in a much more robust way than ever before.

Let me be clear - this is no bad thing, as for democracy to flourish, people have to be able to have their say. Digital media and the advent of platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have been two of the most recent and most dramatic catalysts for this.

Some critics may argue that the internet will lead to a poorer quality of political debate, spearheaded by people who have axes to grind.

I disagree with this. Digital technologies are opening up the world of politics to a whole new demographic, which is vital when we often hear about falling turnouts at elections, with the younger generations supposedly alienated by the political system.

As a council we are committed to being open and transparent, and this very site www.birminghamnewsroom.com is part of our effort to engage with the media and citizens digitally.

The pace of change has been dramatic and we are fully committed to ensuring that we use emerging technologies to stay at the head of the pack when it comes to modern forms of communication.

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