Expand Votermedia to Municipal Politics

5 minutes
Students at the University of British Columbia talk about how their student union’s VoterMedia competition could be implemented in municipal politics. “I would say right now for voter funded media, if you were to put it into a municipal election, or perhaps something larger, the one big thing it would do, it would democratize the media.” (Jeff Fong, Blogger, Social Capital)


Text page: 

How votermedia (= voter funded media = VFM) can expand from student unions to larger democracies:

Taylor Lukacin – Blogger, AMS Confidential: 

I would love to see [votermedia] expand throughout the Vancouver region. We have a really intense and really awesome blogging community within Vancouver which I was a part of before [votermedia], and I think that there’s lots of potential there to elevate some of the smaller local blogs to become more notorious. I think that’s a really great area of opportunity…

Matthew Naylor – AMS VP External 2007-2008: 

I think municipal politics is fertile ground for [votermedia] to plant itself in. I think that any politics would be, in all honesty, but I think municipal is a good starting place. The amount of local detail is something that isn’t covered a lot in major papers, and I think that the nuance and the attention to detail that is inherent within a [votermedia] system, will cause the quality of debate, which at a municipal level I think is pretty low, to improve drastically. [Insert: Filibuster Cartoons – Interview with Diane Watts]

Andrew Carne – Blogger, UBC Insiders: 

…when you look at the mainstream media on an issue, there’s generally the same opinion rehashed again and again and again. You get these smaller media outlets, that actually do their own investigative work, they are able to present a different outlook on a story than the mainstream media does. So you get different opinions out there, and you may even get more facts, and information, than you do from the CBC or whoever’s reporting. [Insert: Frances Bula – What did city lose by okaying Olympic village social housing deal]

Justin McElroy – Coordinating Editor, The Ubyssey: 

…I think there’s a fantastic opportunity, because even in municipal elections, especially with municipal elections, there’s your local papers and TV stations, but they deal very much still with the superficial, with the one or two issues that everyone’s talking about, and with the current scandal of the day. You have alternative media out there that’s talking about the issues they care about and they have knowledge of, you have a better sense of what voters as a whole care about, and that, at the end of the day, benefits the community, benefits the city, benefits the election much more, because you’re having these alternative viewpoints come out, and an actual discussion happen, about things which may not be able to get on page one or three of the paper. [Insert: Stephen Rees – Cambie Corridor plans puts Vancouverism to the test]

Jeff Fong – Blogger, Social Capital: 

I would say right now for [votermedia], if you were to put it into a municipal election, or perhaps something larger, the one big thing it would do, it would democratize the media. As right now media’s heavily controlled by the major newspapers, the TVs, the radio, whatever. But [votermedia] could help publicize all these different smaller outlets, and actually show what people are saying who aren’t involved at all of these giant organizations. While blogs currently are written by people who actually care, if you could use [votermedia] and aggregate all this information, it would definitely help increase the knowledge, the public opinion, and what the issues are for people. [Insert: Civic Surrey – Time to revive the B-Line in Surrey]

Jason Ng – Blogger, Social Capital: 

Yeah, I agree, I think there’s an increasing trend towards people needing to be aware of their local roots. Like these days we get a lot of news out there that’s national or worldwide, and we hear about all these things happening in the world, but we don’t understand what’s happening in our own neighbourhoods. And that’s I think an area where [votermedia], if properly executed, could play a role in all kinds of areas, whether it’s a huge city, whether it’s a small community. I think people want to identify with their local roots, and [votermedia] would be able to provide them with a way of doing that, that any other program that I’ve seen hasn’t been able to. [Insert: Brentwood Station – 6 residential towers to transform Brentwood skyline]

Professor Fred Cutler – Political Science, UBC 

…what’s interesting for me is that [votermedia] may have in fact more potential in traditionally low engagement, low information settings. And municipal politics is a natural extension, in the sense that we know that voters don’t have nearly the same amount of information when they go to the polls in municipal elections as they do when they vote in a national or provincial election.

Mitch Wright – AMS Votermedia Administrator 2009: 

So, it could possibly even shake up the system that has been in place in Vancouver for over a hundred years as we’ve had people dominating the at-large city elections. So I think it’s very crucial that some more media outlets start to come into place in the city, and start making people realize that there are a lot more viable alternatives to the status quo.