I really enjoyed taking part in the Blogging panel this afternoon along with Iain Dale, Dyfrig Jones, Huw Thomas and John Dixon. Bethan Jenkins was chairing. I thought it was really interesting, and the room was full. Some interesting questions were thrown at us, and it was interesting to see journalists attend and engage in the debate.
Here are some of the key points I made:
- Blogs have become increasingly important in terms of politics in Wales. Why? 1 - Wales is a small country, easier for your blog to reach target audience. 2 - weaknesses in the Welsh press, and lack of daily Welsh newspapers.
- In the past, if BBC or HTV chose not to run the story, then majority of people would never hear of the story. Blogs have changed that. Now, you can put a story online for everyone to read. If enough people react to it, then this sometimes forces journalists to take the story seriously. Rhodri Glyn and the cigar scandal, and also the Aneurin Glyndwr website are two obvious examples of this.
- Blogs therefore fill a gap that exists within the media in Wales.
- Political parties have to be realistic and not over-emphasise importance of blogs. Must be remembered that most of the electorate will never read a blog. Most of my female friends never bother to read them - think its something only geeks and nerds do! Difficult to disagree sometimes.
- Why bother then? Three reasons why I keep a blog:
1 - enjoy writing, exchanging ideas and debating
2 - When I was a press officer, it was a way to give publicity to a story that the press weren't interested in
3 - Raise my profile as a candidate. I hadn't lived in Wales since 1999, and knew that if I wanted to run, then I needed to make sure that people within my own party, other parties and journalists got to know me better. Certain this has been worth while. People now know my views on a number of topics, such as higher education, lembit opik, baking and karaoke!
- of course, there is a risky element to blogs. Can make or break you. Worth keeping your scandals to a personal diary, which can then be kept for a future autobiography! To that end, I keep the following in mind when blogging:
Two people are likely to read everything I put on my blog:
1 - Glyn Davies, parliamentary candidate for the Conservatives in Montgomeryshire and esteemed blogger
2 - my father! I don't think I need to explain that....