Tag Archives: government

Mexican Senate uses Google Moderator for a Q&A session with citizenship

Built upon the Google Apps Engine, Google Moderator is the tool used by the Mountain View company’s executives to hold their town hall meetings that sometimes include Q&A sessions with thousands of people from all over the world. The software allows participants to submit questions and vote for those who want to meet with priority.

Google has announced on its official Latin American blog that the President of the Mexican Senate will use Google Moderator to answer questions to the citizenship next June 14th.

“El Senado Responde” (The Senate answers) is the site that will host all the questions from the Mexican public to Carlos Navarrete, President of Senate.

The Q&A session will also be broadcast live through the Senate Channel and website, and later will be uploaded to YouTube.

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The Great Government Data Rush – what does it mean for journalists?

Earlier this week I posted briefly on what I consider to be the most significant move for journalism by the UK government since the Freedom of Information Act. But I wanted to look more systematically at what is likely to be a huge change in the information landscape that journalists deal with…

So. In the spirit of data journalism, here is an embedded spreadsheet of the timetable of data to be released by national government, local government, and other bodies. I’ve added notes on how I feel each piece of data could be important, and any useful links – but I’d like you to add any thoughts on other possibilities. Here it is:

Meanwhile, over at Data.gov.uk, the Local Data Panel has published a post inviting comment on the format that data might be supplied in, and fields it might contain.

  • As a first stage, publish the raw data and any lookup table needed to interpret it in a spreadsheet as a CSV or XML file as soon as possible. This should be put on the council’s website as a document for anyone to download. Or even published in a service such as Google Docs
  • There is not yet a national approach for publishing local authority expenditure data. This should not stop publication of data in its raw, machine-readable form. Observing such raw data being used is the only route to a national approach, should one be required
  • Publishing raw data will allow the panel and others to assess how that data could/should be presented to users. Sight of the data is worth a hundred meetings. Members of the panel will study the data, take part in the discussion and revise this advice.
  • As a second stage, informed by the discussion, the panel and users can then give feedback about publishing data (RDF, CSV, etc) in a way that can be consistent across all local authorities involving structured, regularly updated data published on the Web using open standards.

Help Me Investigate contributor and all-round good guy Neil Houston has already responded with some very interesting points.

“You’d be surprised how many times there are some systems where it’s not totally easily to identify the payment, back to the relevant invoice (apart from a manual reconciliation), you need to know the invoice side of the transactions – as that is where the cost will be booked to (as the payment details will just be crediting cash, debiting Accounts Payable).”

Local and national government open up data – starting now

Yesterday saw the publication of an incredible letter by David Cameron to government departments, including local government. It sets out a whole range of areas where data is to be released – some of it scheduled for January 2011, but some of it straight away.

You can find my thoughts about the release in this article by Laura Oliver, along with those of the likes of David Higgerson. This is probably as important an event as the passing of the FOI Act – it is more important than the launch of data.gov.uk. Note it.

I smell a government rat in my news

As traditional media outlets close down, the relative importance of non-market players becomes more important.

Governments around the world were quick to see the opportunities for their news agencies. From Xinhua (China) to ITAR-TASS (Russia), from AFP (half of its budget comes from state subscriptions) to Voice of America, governments are trying to shape the world’s public opinion.

The coverage of Gaza by Al Jazeera is a case in point. They produced quality journalism no other outlet could dream of. Now, viewers should keep in mind that money for such newsgathering comes straight from the pocket of the Emir of Qatar. Believe me, I’m sure Al Jazeera’s journalists keep that in mind too.

To help you measure the amount of government-funded journalism, I built this little app, I smell a government rat in my news. Just type in any query and you’ll see the share of articles produced with state funds. Continue reading

What’s the future for local and regional media?

The government has launched a new inquiry into the future of local and regional media – and there’s just six weeks to have your say on the subject.

None of us (yet) have the answers to the question of new journalism business models, and the local and regional press is suffering some of the hardest hits.  But ideas and initiatives are presenting themselves everyday. And now the Culture, Media and Sport Committee is looking for views on a range of tough issues, including:

  • The impact of newspaper closures on independent local journalism and access to local information;
  • How to fund quality local journalism;
  • The appropriateness and effectiveness of print and electronic publishing initiatives undertaken directly by public sector bodies at the local level;
  • The opportunities and implications of BBC partnerships with local media;
  • Incentives for investment in local content;
  • Opportunities for “ultra-local” media services.

We’re thinking about a collective response from journalism educators and OJB readers to the key questions, coordinated from here. So to begin with, what are your ideas, links to the best think pieces you’ve read or examples you’ve seen? Do you agree with the call to relax competition laws to allow local newspaper publishers to merge? Or what about Andy Burnham’s statement that there will be no bailout for local papers.

Let’s use this as a starting point to develop a collective, crowdsourced response to the inquiry.