Monday, 3 August 2009

My Welsh Blogosphere - Alun Williams

I began doing a blog as a extension to my councillor’s newsletter which I deliver door to door in my ward every few months. At first, like the newsletter, it was very much pavement politics aimed purely at people living in the Bronglais area (about a quarter of Aberystwyth). But it became clear, firstly, that internet usage isn’t yet at the level where that level of parochialism can work and, secondly, that some articles were attracting interest from much further afield. So I began to focus it more towards where I could see an untapped interest in Aberystwyth area news and comment.

I try to concentrate on stuff that hasn’t been covered much elsewhere and most enjoy it when I manage to break some fresh news or when the blog becomes a focus for local debate, as it did when the plans to demolish a large section of Aberystwyth Town Centre were launched.

There are a few bloggers in the area now and we all know each other and reference each other’s blogs at times. There’s Dogfael, Caredig i Natur and Hill’s Chronicle, to take three very different examples. The great thing about the ‘blogosphere’ is that it’s so varied.

There’s no question that I’d be more forthright, and maybe more interesting, if I wasn’t a councillor and afraid of ending up in the real press for saying something inappropriately wild (again). But then there are very few issues that are absolutely straightforward and there’s something to be said for genuinely trying to inform people and put all the sides with just a little steer towards what I might think is the right viewpoint. And even that can have an effect on sensitive local politicians used to having only one media outlet to cope with. One recent blog got printed off and circulated around the local Council Cabinet as a dreadful warning of the mischief opposition councillors like me can make when Cabinet members don’t toe the party line.

Although blogging is very much a minority, anorak thing at the moment I do see it gradually rising in importance as people switch on to its possibilities as a supplement/alternative to the established media with its trite, uninspiring view of the world. The development of group blogs – mini newspapers in effect – is especially interesting in this respect. I know many bloggers see their blogs as a space to comment about the news rather than make it but I like both approaches, especially in Wales where we’re desperately short of the pluralistic media we all deserve.

The Welsh media as a whole is tiny enough but the local press is even worse with many local papers having a total monopoly of news and the way it’s portrayed in their area, often with a sensationalist, anti-politics agenda that feeds peoples’ cynicism. Against this context it’s relatively easy for bloggers to become a significant source of local news and I can see that side of the scene taking off particularly.

Although I actually love newspapers in many ways and really don’t want to see their demise, there’s no denying that the format can barely cope with the pace of modern life. I know some people say that blogs are vanity publishing and have no effect but I suspect the effect is under the surface and increasing. We all know of examples where a blog has broken a really big story but I think they’re also increasing the level of understanding and debate in a more subliminal way. It’s so intrinsically healthy to see so many people with different views and styles springing up to make a contribution they couldn’t have easily made before.

I don’t really know about the blogging scene anywhere else but the Welsh blogosphere is starting to feel like the kind of intelligent, spirited world some of us suspect is waiting to emerge from under the surface of this semi-formed nation of ours.

(Written by Alun Williams author of the www.bronglais.blogspot.com)

This is post twenty seven of a series of articles giving a chance to Welsh bloggers to have their say on the state of the blogosphere and where it's going. If you're interested in contributing place feel free to contact me at welshbloggers@gmail.com

2 Responses to “My Welsh Blogosphere - Alun Williams”

cambriapolitico said...

Well considered and written article. Da iawn.

Interesting article.

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