Sunday, September 10, 2006

NDP Convention Transparency

If you are a politcal junkie like I am you watch Political conventions like sports fans watch their favorite sport. You know the players, the issues, and you yell at the TV when someone should call for a standing vote. Well I do anyways. I also yell to challenge the chair, something I do at conventions as well as in front of my TV.

Well if you have been watching the NDP Convention on CPAC, and who hasn't amongst us political bloggers left, centre and right, you will have seen a convention that failed to take advantage of TV to engage Canadians to be part of the debate.

I am not going to deal with issues that came to the floor but the process itself. Hopefully fellow Dippers will forward this to the Party insiders for their consideration for the next convention.

And I am writing this as someone who has run the Alberta NDP Communications and Strategy Committee in two successful elections. Including the 1997 election which saw our provincial party use the internet and the web for our campaign, one of the first elections to do so.

A problem arose early in the Convention when the French language Resolution Book did not match the English. Opps. It makes it a lot easier for us to follow along if the two match.

Simultaneous linguistic translation as well as AISL translation was available, which was excellent. Except that no deal was made with CPAC to show a mini screen of AISL translation for TV viewers which they do normally for QP in the house.

By day two they were no longer reading the resolutions out, but refering to them by number. Great if you are there but lousy for us at home. We can only get the gist of the issue to be debated by hoping those at the mikes would refer to the Resolution. The resolutions, not the Wherefores but the Be It Resolved, should have been read out for us in TV Land. After all many of us are NDP members and want to know what the hell is being debated and decided.

There was huge screen behind the Chairperson which had on it had a slogan, the particular theme for the Resolutions. The Resoultions should have been shown on that screen for all too see.

I can not stress enough how important this is. We are watching at home, and people are speaking to Resolution ABC1-2-3 well what the hell is that. Without hearing and seeing the BIRT we are lost. Thus you lose viewers.

The Website, Friday opening day of the Convention and the day before did not have the resolutions posted. The website was an afterthought and should have been used eariler to post the full set of convention resolutions in PDF. Thus we would have avoided Blogging Tories posting the resolutions on their websites and running to the MSM claiming they had undercovered the 'secret' resolutions' for the Convention.

Quebec 2006

Watch live on CPAC Latest News Photos From the floor: Convention blog

It was not until yesterday, Saturday, that the webpage changed to focus on the Convention. And then it was static, not interactive. Its Blogs were a joke, and it should have been online earlier. Clips of Stephen Lewis,
Malalai Joya, , Shirely Douglas, etc. and other speakers should have been posted. Independent of the CPAC links. And they should have been.

There were several great speeches. And none are linked.If presenting the whole speech was problematic then key points or highlights should have been posted both as video and audio. Hello anyone hear of Real Audio, Real Video, perhaps IPOD.

And again I cannot empahsize enough that real time blogging from the convention could have added enormously to the creation of news from the convention floor.

But what can we execpt from the communications brain trust of Brian Lavigne who during the election refrained from having an official blog. Cause blogging wasn't important. Yep time to review the Director of Communications job. Anne as the new President I would advise you take a serious look at this.

And who ever is doing press releases missed a great sound bite quote from Gary Doer on the need for a national electrical grid. "The Empire needs to build a grid." Right up there with transforming Canada by building the National Railway.
Thats news. Thats a sustainable development issue. Thats our news.

I mean you could have three or four Doer press releases, his focus on the Three K's; Kids, Kelowna and Kyoto/Climate Change is a headline that writes itself. But this was not done either.

A convention communications team has to be created for the next convention to deal with real time web broadcasting of the convention, complete with real blogging, and using online media to produce our own Convention news. This is not new it has been done at CLC and CUPE conventions.

This is crucial because the debates held were excellent, the party was energized, it took on major issues, the Sherbrooke Resolution says we recognize asymetrical federalism as well as Quebec as a nation. The Aboriginal resolution recognizes the need for a seperate Aboriginal caucus and asymetrical federalism with First Nations as a Country and a party, if I understand the debate cause I didn't get to read the resolution nor hear it nor see it. Our environmental policy dove tailing with a sustainable economic plan, brilliant, and it will hurt the Green Party.

All this was lost as the media focused on one issue and one issue only. Afghanistan.

That is why we need two media strategies. One is the standard party communications plan which is press releases, press conferences. The other is a communications plan for web coverage of the convention, which issues a second set of press releases, sound bites, real blogs with comment sections and real time blogging, etc.

Its great to talk about inclusion which was a whole panel discussion with resolutions, but if we the TV audience and the Canadian population including NDP members are not included then the convention might as well have been held in the old style of the smokey back rooms. We have a one person one vote policy now in the party for electing our leader, that seems to have been forgotten since this Convention was not a leadrship race. But the need to have party members involvement at all levels was also forgotten in preparing for this convention.

Given the failure of the CBC and CTV to cover this convention, the need for the website to offer Canadians a real time alternative that is accessible to even the slowest computer link, and the oldest PC is crucial.

With the improvements I have suggested the next Convention would be the most inclusive of any Political Party in Canada.

P.S. there was at least one actual live blog from the convention.

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